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Blue hour at Chocolate Ville

I was going through old photos and found these, taken four years ago at Chocolate Ville, Bangkok during blue hour. “The blue hour, from the French expression l’heure bleue, is the period of twilight each morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness. The time is considered special because of the quality of the light.” As the term suggests, when you take a photo during blue hour the result is a stunning deep blue sky.

We were at Chocolate Ville for dinner; I went around to take photos while we wait for our food. I have been wanting to try blue hour photography but since it has to be taken at specific time of the day — during twilight — I was not able to execute that plan and I have no idea why. Nonetheless, when I saw the photos I’ve taken at Chocolate Ville I was thrilled to realise that I’ve taken them at blue hour! So much about making plans when things can be accomplished at the least expected moments. Unfortunately, I started a bit late as the night began to deepen so as you can see the color of the sky in some of my photos are too dark.

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Chocolate Ville is a theme park restaurant in Bangkok though located a bit far off from the city center. The best way to get there is by taxi which will cost from 100-200 Baht. Don’t be mistaken by its name though, sorry to break it to you but the place isn’t about chocolates; I haven’t found a shop that sells chocolates there either. Contrary to most restaurants in Bangkok, Chocolate Ville offers a European vibe so if you are a westerner wanting to experience Thai culture, it’s probably not the best place to go.

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The best part is there is no entrance fee and you can take as many photos as you like. If you’d want to dine there I would suggest making a reservation to make sure you get a seat after that long trip by taxi; it took us an hour to get there! Also note that they are open from 4PM-12AM so don’t go there too early since it’s far from the central district and there is nothing else to do to kill time.

Chocolate Ville
Soi Nawamin 74, Yak 3-8, Kaset-Nawamin Road, Klong Kum Subdistrict, Bueng Kum District.
Bangkok, Thailand
+66-83-077-3738 or
+66-81-921-2016 or
+66-81-921-0661
http://www.chocolateville.net/


Kayan tribe: meeting the long-necked women

There are different concepts of beauty but for me none is as eccentric and rather ‘life-threatening’ as that of the Kayan tribe. During my naïve years in my early twenties, I visited the controversial ethnic tourist village in northern Thailand that showcases the long-necked Kayan women as part of our tour package, unconscious of the ethical issues around it. I didn’t know then that there are existing activism against the exploitation of these women for tourism purposes. My preconceptions then was that these women migrated to Thailand along with their tribe to escape their hard life in Burma, used their tribe’s unique custom where women wear brass-necklaces to attract tourists which eventually became their top source of income — entry to their tribe village costs THB300 back in 2011. Little did I know that aside from the health problems and life risks these women suffer because of this particular custom, their tribe also face complex issues around citizenship and migration.

With the most beautiful woman in the village

With the most beautiful woman in the village. Why I said so? Read on.

Kayan tribe

The Kayan tribe, a sub-group of Karenni tribe, is one of the six ‘hill tribes’ in northern Thailand. They are refugees from Myanmar who fled from the conflict. As refugees they continue to suffer from dire poverty, lack of healthcare and basic services including education. They also receive unequal share from the tourism profit. Some of them also experience difficulties in integrating with Thai society probably because geographically they live mostly in hills farther from Thai homes and customarily they have a more backward way of life as opposed to Thais who have embraced modernisation. Such ‘identity crisis’ is worse among young Kayans who grow up between ‘two worlds’.

Human museum or human zoo

Some call the Kayan village a human museum or human zoo because the main tourist attractions are the girls and women wearing brass rings on their neck. Kayan girls begin to wear brass rings as early as 5 years old; more rings are gradually added as they age. It is believed that the woman with the most number of rings is considered the most beautiful.

Wearing rings is part of Kayan tribe’s traditional customs. Some believe that wearing the rings will ward off evil spirits. Some think that the rings will protect the girls from being bitten by a tiger. Some also say that village men use this tradition to keep their wives from having affairs as husbands would punish their wife by removing the rings. In doing so, Kayan women are left bedridden as their head can’t stand without the rings.

I was told that the rings weigh as much as 14 kilos. A replica is made available for tourists to carry so they will know how heavy they are; I could barely carry it longer with both hands! They also have a lighter version of the rings that visitors can wear to take photos with.

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Practicing their craft.

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Wearing the bonnet I bought from them.

She is so pretty!

She is so pretty!

Should one visit the Kayan village?

During one of our intensive classes on human rights of migrants, my classmate brought up the question on whether we should visit the village knowing that some tour agencies exploited these women without giving them a fair share of the profit. Although the issues they face are very complex, a sad truth remains that because of their refugee status this women will not find a job in Thailand and tourism in their village remains their only form of livelihood. As such, the question is not whether we should visit them or not but how we can help them through our visit.

One way to directly help the Kayans is to purchase their products. If you have spare cash, directly giving it to them after you take their photo will bring joy to their pretty faces.

The village

We went to a village with less tourists. At the entrance before you pass through the bamboo bridge were booths lined up where they display their handicrafts for sale. I didn’t know then that young girls also wear the rings so I was a bit shocked when I saw them. At first they were indifferent to our presence which made me uncomfortable because I felt we were invading their peace, but when I smiled and attempted a conversation they smiled back making me feel at ease. Some women vendors belong to another tribe so they don’t wear the rings.

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How to get there?

I visited the village in 2011 through a tour agency so I cannot be of much help to adventurers who would prefer to commute. Although I remember that we passed through narrow roads along bushes which is said to be inhabited by snakes. Even if I speak a little bit of Pasathai, I may still find it harder to reach the area so going through a tour agency may be the most convenient option.


Bike your way around Thailand in Muang Boran

Muang Boran or Ancient Siam, known to be the world’s largest museum, is one my favorite places in Thailand. I always recommend this place to friends and tourists who have limited time to spend in Bangkok because it offers a glimpse of what Thailand has to offer; from the golden temples, ruins of Ayutthaya, floating market, reclining Buddha, to the monkey temple up in a hill. Muang Boran is a vast land of over 200 acres in the shape of Thailand where miniatures of historical and tourist attractions are located at their exact spot in the country.

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I visited the Ancient City last weekend with my friend Pat who was on a 2-day transit from Kathmandu to Manila. It was my second visit since 2011 when I took my mom there. So much have changed since then, including a hefty entrance fee of THB700 (21USD) as compared to the THB400 fee before. But since I have a work permit, I was able to get the Thai rate which is only THB350. The fee includes the bike rental but if you don’t know how to bike, you can also take the tram.

How to get there
Depending on where you are in Bangkok, the best and most convenient way for me is to take the BTS to the last station Bearing. From there you can take the taxi which will cost about THB250 (8USD). This will work best if you travel in a group and share the cost. Otherwise you can take the bus but since I haven’t tried this option, it’s better you check their website.


I was in awe at this Ancient City that the first time I went there I just savored the feeling without ever thinking where it is coming from. But last weekend I am able to reflect some of the reasons why I will never have enough of it.

Communing with nature
I am a nature lover and living in metropolitan Bangkok makes my heart yearn for green things, lakes and cool breeze. Some tourist destinations make me feel exhausted at the end of the day but Muang Boran is such a stress-reliever. Imagine lying on a grass with a cool wind kissing your cheeks! And cycling is a good de-stressor, and with a pinch of yoga oh I just had an awesome Sunday. Here’s a photo of me trying to do the crow pose and another photo in the office showing my progress 5 days after, yeehaaa!

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Stunning historical structures
For someone like me who fancy anything old or vintage, much more ruins, Ancient Siam offers stunning architectural structures which bring century-old stories in it. You will also be amazed at how intricate the designs are which reflect Thais’ stellar craftsmanship.

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Beautiful gardens
There are several gardens around Ancient Siam which come in different styles. Some have fountains, human-sized figurines, hanging plants and various ornamental and flowering plants.

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Local food and cultural experience
It was during lunch at the floating market where we contemplated that Muang Boran does not just offer a taste of local food but also offers a cultural experience. And since I believe that a cultural experience is something we acquire on a personal basis, you have to get there to experience it yourself.

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It is needless to say that Muang Boran or Ancient Siam with its grandiose beauty will make every photography enthusiast salivate.

If you want to visit the Ancient City and you’ve got some questions feel free to drop a comment.

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