12.12.2015 - 12.12.2015 32 °C
One of the many Chinese medical halls in Charoen Krung Road in Yaowarat
Yaowarat, the Bangkok's Chinatown is not only well known for its gold shops, Chinese medical halls, Chinese food dining and for inexpensive shopping at Sampeng Market, it is also noted for religious activity which include paying homage at the famous and well known Chinese temple known as Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (Dragon Flower Temple) formerly named as Leng Noi Yee temple. This temple is one of the landmark in Yaowarat, located along the Charoen Krung Road. Over the years, this temple has undergone some renovations and its exterior temple building has been much improved. Entering from the main gate of the temple building, visitors are being greeted with the statue of the golden Happy Buddha. On the left and right of the entrance are 2 guardian deity statues on each side respectively. The main altar hall has 3 Golden Buddha statues. Walking further inside the temple building on the right would be the Monkey God statue and several Taoism God statues. There were also a Taoism God statue and the Goddess of Kuan Yin statue right at the end of the temple building on far left and right side respectively. Some multiple Buddha statues were also located within the small courtyard inside the temple building. Just outside the Wat Mangkon Kamalawat , on the left side of the buidling coming from the outer main entrance is a statue of a monk sitting on a tortoise as well as an altar and very old chedi. Wat Mangkon is one of the most sacred temple in Yaowarat and also one of the very important religious identity to the Chinese community in Bangkok as well as to Yaowarat community. Another temple along Charoen Krung Road is the Canton Shrine which was closed during my visit. Along the Thanon Mangkon (Mangkon Road), on the side of Charoen Krung Road is yet another Chinese temple known as Wat Kanmatuyaram which currently undergoing reconstruction. Nevertheless, devotees can still pay homage to the Goddess of Kuan Yin on the mid-size altar located on the main Mangkon Road (the main temple building has been demolished to make way for reconstruction I think). Along Mangkon Road near Wat Kanmatuyaram, there were some old colonial style buildings similar to those found in Phuket old town seen lining the left and right shoulder of the road.
WAT MANGKON KAMALAWAT EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR
WAT KANMATUYARAM AND ITS SURROUNDINGS COLONIAL BUILDINGS
It is also note to worth that there are quite a dozens of fruit vendors located within the Charoen Krung Road and they looked so fresh, juicy and tasty. Along Charoen Krung Road, it is also famous for its cendol, a sweet iced desserts, consist of shaved iced topped with sweetened coconut milk and brown sugar as well as sago and pandan jelly (lod chong nam grati in Thai). There is one famous cendol shop along Charoen Krung Road and well known among locals and tourists alike. These desserts not only found in Singapore and Malaysia but also here in Yaowarat. A few shops ahead from this cendol shop, would be yet another famous Chinese herbal drink shop and this medicinal drink has ingredients made with healing properties and to curb thirstiness. As it is hot and humid in Bangkok, its good to have a cup of this refreshingly bitter herbal drink.
Dim sum is also a must try when touring Yaowarat and in Charoen Krung and Yaowarat Road there are 2 well known dim sum restaurants famous among locals and travellers. If you think that Bangkok's dim sum quality and taste were in no comparison to that of its other Chinese counterparts, think again. Today, the quality of dim sum in Bangkok has improved tremendously and on par with those in other Chinese cities if not better in my opinion. Another not to be missed food in Yaowarat is the fish and prawn ball soup and noodles and some of the best shop serving this dish located on the Song Sawat Road, to the left side opposite 7-Eleven located on the intersection between Yaowarat Road and Song Sawat Road. On one of the alley of Charoen Krung there was a wanton noodle shop that serves generous bowl of noodle and selection of pork add-on, which not only tasty and delicious but also inexpensive. This stall can easily be missed, so try to ask people around if you happened to be at Charoen Krung Road to visit Wat Mangkon Kamalawat.
ENJOY DIM SUM AT RESTAURANTS ALONG CHAROEN KRUNG ROAD, YAOWARAT
SOME BEST WANTON NOODLE STALL ALSO LOCATED @ CHAROEN KRUNG ROAD
Fish ball and prawn ball soup
One of the sacred and well known temple near Yaowarat is the Wat Traimit. This temple housed the Golden Buddha statue, which was from pure gold consisting 83% of it. The original statue was being covered with plaster and lacquer to hide it from looters during the Sukhothai period or later Ayuthaya period. The statue was then moved to Bangkok during King Rama III era and later abandoned. The sacred Golden Buddha was then rediscovered in 1955 when it was being moved to its present location after which the ropes carrying the statue broke and the statue fell. The plaster and lacquer covering the statue chipped and revealed the gold hidden under the statue. Wat Traimit has undergone major renovations and now looks very much different from when I first visited about 8 years back. The ubosot of Wat Traimit resembles that of the Loha Prasat Temple also known as Wat Ratchanatdaram. To sum it up, Wat Traimit is beautiful and standing proudly just outside of Yaowarat, near the Chinatown Gate and Hua Lamphong train station.
Hua Lamphong train station