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Style Oddities – Fake Braces Worn as Fashion Accessories

It’s at times like this that I simply don’t understand fashion trends. I mean, what would prompt otherwise normal teenagers to consider something as horrendous as braces to be a fashionable accessories? Don’t get me wrong, I think braces are an extremely useful dental tool and I used to wear them as well, but I always dreamt of the day I would be done with them forever. Kids in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and China, however, think very differently. For them, braces have become a huge teenage fashion statement.

As unfathomable as the trend sounds, there’s actually a reason behind it. Just as ‘plump’ people were thought to be attractive at one point – as a sign of prosperity – braces to the Asian kids are a sign of wealth, status and style. The reason: genuine orthodontic braces are quite expensive. A set of braces in Bangkok would set you back about $1,200. So all the kids want to wear what the rich kids are wearing. Braces are also popular among young celebrities and youth icons like Indonesian heartthrob Andika Kangen and Thai pop singer Earn the Star. Many Thai and Indonesian websites display pictures of Gwen Stefani sporting braces back in the 90s. Apparently, she had recently confessed that her braces were a ‘fashion choice’, and she’s since become an instant hit with Asian kids. The internet is littered with countless blogs and websites on fashion braces. I tried googling them and found that braces are available in an explosion of colors and varieties.

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Thailand’s Cobra Village – Where Men and Snakes Live in Harmony

Sixty years ago, a doctor from Thailand had a vision for his small, dusty old village – to convert it into a major tourist attraction. And in an attempt to do so, he actually convinced his fellow villagers to raise pet snakes in their homes, putting them in shows for tourists. Surprisingly the ploy worked, and today the village of Ban Kok Sa-Nga in Thailand’s Northeastern Province of Khon Kaen is better known as ‘The Cobra Village’, among tourists.

All of the 140-odd homes in Ban Kok Sa-Nga have at least one pet snake, which they place outside in wooden boxes. The pet snakes range from deadly ones, such as king cobras or monocled cobras, to less dangerous ones such as copperheaded racers and pythons. The atmosphere in the village itself is always festive; it is one big snake show theme attraction. The snakes are bred in captivity and put together in daredevil shows such as – you won’t believe this – man vs. snake boxing matches. Obviously not for the light-hearted, these shows involve the handlers taunting an already enraged giant king cobra. As the snakes slither across the stage, the men pull their tails to provoke them further. Despite all the weird stunts that take place in these shows, what spooks out most tourists is the level of comfort the villagers share with the snakes. Most people are terrified of these creatures, but the people of Ban Kok Sa-Nga don’t even bat an eye-lid. Even the children are completely at ease; they are taught how to handle snakes, how to fight them and feed them, at a very young age.

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In Thailand People Change Their Names to Improve Their Fortunes

You might have heard of people changing their names because they didn’t like the ones their parents gave them. Or in an attempt to change their identity and escape their past. But in Thailand, name changes are common for a different reason altogether – to bring good luck.

A case-in-point is 46-year-old Baramee Thammabandan, formerly known as Teerapol Lilitjirawat. While neither name strikes us as charismatic, the change has made a world of difference to Mr. Baramee. About 10 years ago, he had suffered a major misfortune, when his garments business had failed. His eyesight became poor, he couldn’t manage his affairs and to make matters worse, his wife left him. And so he did what is natural to the people of Thailand – he changed his name. “I wanted to become a new person,”  the now clean shaven and slim Baramee says. Ironically, his new name does mean ‘charisma’.

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Thai “Sorcerer” Gives Disciples Bulletproof Tattoos, They Decide to Try Them Out

Boonyong Luangjumpol, also known as Ajarn Ton, was recently arrested in Thailand’s Yanglad district after he allegedly gave local teens magic tattoos and told them they made them invincible. Unsurprisingly, they wanted to try out their ink armor and engaged in a series of brawls.

Sak Yant is an ancient type of Thai tattoo said to bestow the bearer with mystical powers. It incorporates Buddhist prayers called Mantras or Katas that will invoke supernatural powers. These magic spells were originally inscribed on pieces of cloth, and centuries ago, Thai soldiers would wear Yant-printed jackets to offer them extra protection in battle. After Budhism was adopted as a religion in Thailand, it became common for devotees to have Sak Yant tattoos etched into their skin. Even today, many Thai men believe in their mystical powers, and have one or more tattoos inscribed on their bodies. There are also lots of stories of people sporting Sak Yant tattoos who were shot at close range without even having their skin pierced, or horrific car accidents from which tattoo bearers emerged unscathed. But as recent events have proven, they don’t always work.

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World’s Most Expensive Coffee Is Made from Elephant Dung

You probably didn’t know this, but the world’s most expensive coffee is pretty crappy, literally. Black Ivory coffee is made from beans eaten and digested by Thai elephants, and is priced at $1,100 per kilogram. Enjoy!

I knew elephants in Thailand were good at painting, but I didn’t know they also make great coffee. The rare Black Ivory blend is served at only four resorts around the world, three in the Maldives and one in Thailand. The people behind the exclusive Anantara Resorts came up with the unusual idea of making coffee from elephant-digested beans. As weird and disgusting as it sounds, their idea actually makes sense, in theory. According to research, enzymes in the elephant’s stomach break down the proteins in the coffee beans, and since proteins is one of the main factors of its bitterness, less protein means less of a bitter taste. The drink resulted from the elephant-refined beans is said to be floral and chocolaty, with the taste containing notes of ‘milk chocolate, nutty, earthy with hints of spice and red berries.’ 

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Hang on to Your Panties: Thai Man Collects 11,000 Pairs of Women’s Underwear in 30 Years

Some hobbies are downright disgusting. Like this guy from Thailand who collected 10,000 pairs of women’s underwear. No that’s not the gross part. What’s truly disturbing is that he smelled them all the time, even while he was driving. Ewww, right?

Apparently, his obsession was not just for underwear, but also for the stealthy way he obtained them. The police were tipped off about the thief after he broke into a building in Chinatown, Bangkok along with an accomplice. When they raided his home, to their surprise, they found not cash or jewels, but a whopping 10,000 pairs of underwear. And an additional 1,000 were in his vehicle. He then admitted that he had been breaking in and stealing female panties since the age of 18. He is now 48, so there was actually was literally 30-years-worth of underwear in there! Unfortunately, they could only arrest him on grounds of breaking and entering, since no one had actually reported any missing underwear. And I don’t suppose anyone would be interested in getting their missing garments back, either.

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Heartbreaking: Thai Man Marries Dead Girlfriend

In this tragic love story from Thailand, a man decided to  go ahead with the wedding he and his girlfriend had planned, even though she sadly died in a car crash, just day before the big event.

29-year old Sarinya Kamsook and her 28-year-old boyfriend, Chadil Deffy, were to be married this year. A wedding is considered the most special event of a woman’s life and it was no different for Sarinya. She was eagerly counting the days to the moment when she would finally say ‘I do’, along with the love of her life, but fate had other plans for the young couple. Merely days before the wedding, Sarinya was involved in a car crash, leaving her severely injured. She still could have been saved with timely medical attention. However, the doctors made her wait for 6 hours due to an overcrowded ICU instead of transferring her to another hospital. During this time, she succumbed to her injuries and passed away. Read More »

In Thailand, a “Like” on Facebook Can Get You 15 Years in Jail

In older times, it was “off with your head” if you spoke ill of the King. Now, you go to jail for posting your feelings on Facebook about the Thai monarchy, which many of the Thai folk actively do. In fact, over 10,000 pages of material was found on the social networking, containing images or text that is offensive to the royal family.

The Information Minister of Thailand, Anudith Nakornthap, warned the people of Thailand that if users on Facebook so much as even like or share any kind of information insulting the monarchy, the consequences would be severe. Such a person could be charged with violation of the lese majeste laws of the country, and could serve up to 15 years in prison. He also advised people to ‘unlike’ any pages and remove any comments made on similar lines. In a world where democracy and freedom of speech are taken for granted in most countries, this news might come across as quite surprising. I mean, we’ve lost count of the number of jokes made online at the expense of Bush, Palin and the likes. Thailand however, has always been strict in enforcing laws that protect the dignity of the sovereign.

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Breast Slapping – A Thai Beautician’s Alternative to Plastic Surgery

If you’re serious about making some changes to your appearance but are to afraid to go under the knife, you might want to book a flight to Thailand and give Khemmikka Na Songkhla’s government-approved slapping techniques a try.

I know what you’re thinking – yet another breast-enlargement scam, I was inclined to think that as well, but after doing some research on Khemmikka Na Songkhla’s slapping treatments I found the Thai Health Ministry conducted a six-month study on them and acknowledged her technique as a viable alternative to plastic surgery. The 44 -year-old Bangkok beautician is the only person in the world who knows the secrets of breast, face and buttock slapping, which she inherited from her grandmother. Now, she’s selected planning to select 10 people to pass on her knowledge to, but not for free. Khemmikka is charging 10 million baht ($330,000) for the body-sculpting course, 8 million baht ($260,000) for the breast slapping course, and 5 million baht ($165,000) for the face slapping course. Four people have applied for her courses, so far.

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Thai Artist Stages Modern Day Gold Rush

Acclaimed Thai artist Surasi Kusolwong is challenging art lovers to get down and dirty for the chance to get their hands on a real gold necklace.

Kusolwong’s latest art installation, called Sickness, is one big pile of colorful wool and yearn, but it contains precious treasures in the shape of gold necklaces planted by the artist himself. Lucky visitors at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center have the chance to get down on all four and look for one of the ten gold necklaces hidden withing the sea of thread waste. There is no info on how long a person is allowed to search for the precious necklaces worth hundreds of dollars, but I’m thinking it’s not a lot of time, considering only one of the ten necklaces has been found since the Sickness exhibition opened, on August 21. If someone manages to find one of the small treasures they are allowed to keep it.

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Thai Artist Builds Functional Alien-Predator-Themed Motorcycle

What if an Alien and a Predator decided to put aside their differences and have a baby? It sounds crazy, I know, but I’m guessing that’s what Roongrojna Sangwongprisarn had in mind when he built this mad-looking motorcycle.

Roongrojna is a Bangkok-based artist who creates all kinds of awesome metal sculptures, based on popular monsters, using discarded parts from cars, motorcycles and bicycles. The 54-year-old owns four shops across Thailand, called Ko Art Shop, and exports his works of art all over the world.

You’ve probably seen more impressive Hollywood movie props, but unlike those, this impressive piece of metal work is actually rideable. I have no idea what bike this was initially, or how fast it is, but who needs speed when you’re riding a metal masterpiece like this, right? It’s hard to believe it was made exclusively from discarded metal parts…

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Thai Cook Fries His Own Hands, Doesn’t Get Burned

Kann “Superhands” Trichan got the cool nickname for his incredible ability of scooping pieces of chicken from burning-hot oil with his bare hands.

The 50-year-old Chiang Mai-based street cook can sink his fingers into 480 degrees hot grease without getting so much as a blister on his hands, and his amazing ability has won him international fame. People from all over the world come to his “Fried Chicken Iron Hands Man” food stall to see Kann use his hands to scoop out the chicken and he and his wife travel the globe showing off his gift. Superhands has no idea why he can do what he does, but he’s just happy it brings more and more customers for his business, every day.

Kann Trichan first discovered his unusual gift seven years ago, when he accidentally got hot oil splattered all over his body. While attending his giant woks, he noticed a squirrel eating a mango on a branch just above him. The squirrel dropped the big fruit right in the oil splattering it all over Kann’s body and head. A taxi took him home and when he got up the next day ready to go see a doctor, he took a look in the mirror only to see he had no burns. The redness was fading away and his skin was practically intact, so he just decided to go back to work, to the astonishment of his fellow street vendors.

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Thai Temple Offers the Ultimate Chance at Rebirth

Wat Prommanee, a Buddhist temple, 66 miles northeast of Bangkok, offers believers the chance to lay in a coffin for a few moments, then rise up and feel reborn…

I for one find coffins to be really creepy and I wouldn’t dream of lying down in one if someone paid me all the money in the world, but at Wat Prommanee people actually wait in line and pay a fee for a chance to do just that. It’s one of the strangest ceremonies in the world, but one that has been rising in popularity ever since the temple started practicing it, over six years ago. Nine colorful coffins dominate the main hall of Wat Prommanee Temple, and hundreds of people lie down in them every day, playing dead for about a minute and a half, listening to religious chants, and rise up at command feeling cleansed and relaxed.

Wat Prommanee basically offers a daily resurrection service that many Thais believe washes away bad luck and helps prolong their life. It makes sense that people wish for a second chance in life, especially when confronted with serious issues, but lying down in a decorated coffin hardly seems like a solution. I mean, what if it doesn’t change anything, right? Well, they just go back and do it again. The ceremony apparently relaxes them and gives them positive thoughts, so many people come back to Wat Prommanee Temple for the chance to be reborn several times over a few years. All they have to do is pay a small fee. Read More »

Thai Temple Interior Inspired by Modern Sci-Fi Movies

You’d probably expect temple murals to depict religious themes and Buddha, but the Wat Rong Khun temple in Chiang Rai isn’t your ordinary holy place, as you can easily tell by the murals.

According to Wikipedia, in 1997, Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat volunteered to carry out the work for Wat Rong Khun’s ubosol (the temple’s assembly hall) at his own expense, but he changed the original plan so drastically that it  began drawing in both local and foreign tourists, eager to see the white wonder. Just like Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia cathedral, the unconventional Buddhist and Hindu temple is still under construction and some say it won’t be finished in the next 100 years.

Wat Rong Khun is entirely white, to symbolize Lord Buddha’s purity, and the mirrors used signify his wisdom, which “shines brightly all over the Earth and the Universe.” There is also an impressive bridge across a sea of human hands reaching out towards the sky, but perhaps the most interesting thing about this unique temple is its interior artwork. The imagery is painted in golden tones, depicting sacred animals and spaceships alike. That’s right, futuristic spaceships piloted by robots, ans superheroes like Superman in flight, that’s what’s painted inside Wat Rong Khun. Other scenes you might recognize show popular characters like the Predator, Neo from Matrix, Spiderman, Batman, and even creatures from the Avatar movie.

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The Sanctuary of Truth – Pattaya’s Wooden Wonder

Rising105 meters into the sky, the Sanctuary of Truth is a one-of-a-kind gigantic structure that pays homage to the ‘Ancient Vision of Earth’, ‘Ancient Knowledge’ and ‘Eastern Philosophy’. It looks like a Thai temple or a palace, but it’s actually neither of them, so many people just look at it at as a monument to Thai craftsmanship.

Covering thirty two acres of land, on a rocky hilltop overlooking the ocean, the Sanctuary of Truth is the most magnificent sight in North Pattaya, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. It is entirely carved out of teak wood and features the most beautiful and elaborate wood carvings I have ever seen, inspired by the four major artistic and philosophical influences in Thailand (Chinese, Thai, Khmer and Hindu). Buddha heads, sacred animals and all kinds of  religious and philosophical themes are depicted in the thousands of wooden sculptures and carvings adorning both the interior and outside walls of the sanctuary.

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