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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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Big Knit Café – Where Knitting Goes Well with Coffee

Knitting is mostly known as a favorite grannies all around the world, but at Bangkok’s Big Knit Café, it’s practiced by crafty young professionals trying to unwind.

Who would have thought knitting could be the recipe of a truly successful café business? Not many people, I’m sure, but that didn’t stop Khun Nice from starting Big Knit Café, a now internationally known venue where anyone can savor a cup of coffee or a tasty piece of cake, while knitting and learning new tips from local crafters. Even if you don’t know the first thing about knitting, all you need to do is buy a kit, and the staff at Big Knit Café will teach you everything there is to know.

Apart from all the cakes, pastry delicacies and drinks, Big Knit Café also offers a large colorful collection of yarn, from cotton and bamboo to alpaca and cashmere. The walls are practically lined with rows of yarn, and all customers have to do is decide on type and color.

Big Knit Café is far from being a knitting spot for grannies, as the place is visited by women of all ages, even college students and children, eager to discover the secrets of the art. Even some Thai celebrities stop by Big Knit Café, every once in a while, to relax in a nice, friendly atmosphere.

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The Bizarre Wat Bang Phra Tattoo Festival

Every March, the Wat Bang Phra temple of Nakhom Pathom, Thailand, becomes the scene of a weird celebration, known as  the Wat Bang Phra Tattoo Festival.

While in most western countries tattoos are viewed as an art form, in Thailand, a country with a culture deeply rooted in superstition and spirituality, tattoos are considered more than just skin deep artworks. The traditional Thai tattoos, known as “Sak Yant”, are believed to have magical powers, and people get them done at temples, for protection against evil spirits, and as good luck charms. Many members of Thai police, army, and the underworld think some tattoos have the power to stop bullets and blades from piercing their skin.

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Thailand’s Beautiful Soap Flowers

They look like beautiful exotic flowers, and they even smell the part, only unlike the real thing, Thai soap flowers last forever.

Although these days, soap flowers can be bought as souvenirs from all around Thailand, these scented masterpieces originated in the villages around Chiang Rai. When they weren’t too busy tending to their farms or working in the rice paddies, locals practiced carving on pieces of soap. Their hobby turned into a fine art, and the delicate soap flowers they sold at the local night markets soon captured tourists’ imagination.

The art of soap carving is passed down from generation to generation, and since it’s all done using a few carving knives, the beauty of the flowers depends a lot on the skill and finesse of the artist. Chiang Rai remains the best place to buy soap flowers as souvenirs, and visitors can witness the carving process first hand.

Take a look at the jaw-dropping soap flowers and tell me if you could ever use any of them for washing your hands. I’d maybe do it if it was the last piece of soap on Earth.

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Thai Baker Makes Bread Shaped as Human Body Parts

Kittiwat Unarrom, a talented artist from Thailand, uses his skills to create unique loafs of bread shaped like various human body parts.

Kittiwat has experimented with many art forms, from painting to sculpting, but it wasn’t until he had to return home and take over the family bakery that he discovered his true passion – making grotesque-looking bread. Since he first started out, in 2006, he has made a name for himself, and his Body Bakery has become a popular tourist attraction. Read More »

Soccer World Cup 2010 Held Behind Bars

World Cup 2010 Behind Bars is a soccer competition, held in Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central Prison, between 18 seven-player teams, made-up of inmates.

On June 10, the opening match, between Mexico and South Africa, was played on a muddy soccer pitch, inside the Thai prison, under the watchful eyes of dozen guards. It ended in a 1-1 draw, but the prisoners on the sidelines enjoyed every minute of the rare spectacle. They cheered and banged cow bells for the entire match, showing their support for the teams.

The World Cup Behind Bars was also held in 2002 and 2006 and this year it features 18 seven-player teams, from 45 different countries, picked from the prison’s 1,000 inmates population. They can each represent whatever nation they want, even if it’s not their own, and free spots are taken by Thai prisoners.

The winners of the World Cup Behind Bars 2010 will receive a replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy.

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Wat Phai Rong Wua – Thai Hell on Earth

Wat Phai Rong Wua has to be one of the most bizarre tourist attractions on the face of the Earth. Featuring scenes of torture, performed by devilish creatures, this Buddhist temple complex is what Thais expect hell to be like.

Mostly unkown to the Western world, Wat Phai Rong Wua is a popular destination for Buddhists, who flock here every year. Known as the location of the largest metal-cast Buddha figure in the world, and of the Palace of a Hundred Spires, Wat Phai Rong Wua also houses dozens of sculptures of people being tortured by demons and various monsters. Some are poked in the face with a tridents, while others suffer, with their insides hanging out, in the jaws of giant monsters. There’s blood everywhere and loudspeakers around the complex describe the tortures these sinners have to undergo.

Wat Phai Rong Wua doesn’t strike you as the kind of place you’d want to take your children, on a family vacation, but Thais from all over the country travel here, with their kids, to show them what can happen if they don’t say their prayers, or do bad deeds. Seems pretty weird, doesn’t it? I guess that’s why you hardly see any westerners around this place. Read More »

Orangutan Boxing Matches Held in Thailand

A Thai theme-park, outside Bangkok has become a popular tourist attraction by organizing orangutan boxing matches.

Huge crowds of tourists and “sport” enthusiasts gather at Safari World to watch orangutans duke it out in 30 minute-boxing matches. Forced to wear boxing gloves and shorts, the two primates have been trained to hit each other for the entertainment of man. Although organizers claim the orangutans have been trained to simulate being knocked-down, animal activists say it’s a clear case of animal cruelty.

It’s sad to see thousands of tourists cheer as two 250-pound primates pummel each other, or hear them whistling when a female orangutan, wearing a bikini, displays the round number, but it’s the world we’re living in. These peaceful creatures don’t fight because they like to, but because they’ve been trained to do so, an because they would be beaten if they didn’t.

The Thai government shut down the monkey boxing matches, in 2004, and it’s yet unclear how this bizarre and cruel show is still allowed.

Photos by Barcroft India

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The Samurai Robot Waiters of Hajime Restaurant

A Japanese restaurant in Thailand isn’t something to get overly excited about, but if that restaurant has robot samurais as waiters, it’s a whole other matter.

Lapassarad Thanaphant, a Thai entrepreneur, decided to open a new Japanese restaurant, and found the perfect way to make it stand out from the competition: robot waiters. But not just any robots, samurai-shaped machines that slide all the way to your table, bring you your order, clean tables, and even do an adorable dance routine, to entertain guests.

So, just days after the robot kitchen chef was presented, we already have an almost complete automated restaurant system. According to the owner of Hajime Restaurant, the cool samurai robot waiters cost $930,000, but with the popularity this place is enjoying this days, he’s sure to get his money back very soon.

Be sure to check out the Hajime samurai robot waiters in action, in the video, at the bottom.

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Watch Out, Here Comes the Monkey Police

Santisuk a 5-year-old pig-tailed macaque is a proud member of the Thai police, doing his best to keep the streets crime-free.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, since Santisuk is really just a mascot for the police force of Saliburi district, Thailand. He was found injured, a while back, and has since then been adopted by local policemen. Every day he puts on his “Monkey Police” uniform and accompanies his colleagues on patrols. He doesn’t do arrests or stakeouts, but he does sit on top of the police car drawing attention and improving police image, in locals’ eyes.

You could say Santisuk is the best PR guy police could ever hire. And he enjoys every minute of his job, especially when he receives tasty treats.

Photos by Damir Sagolj/REUTERS via Daylife

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