Samphanthawong

Samphanthawong

Infobox_Amphoe
name=Samphanthawong
province=Bangkok
thai=สัมพันธวงศ์
capital=Talat Noi
coordinates=coord|13|43|53|N|100|30|51|E|type:adm2nd_region:TH
population=35,547
population_as_of=2003
area=1.416
density=25,104
postal_code=10100
geocode=1013

Samphanthawong ( _th. สัมพันธวงศ์) is one of the 50 districts (Khet) of Bangkok, Thailand. Regarded as the Bangkok's Chinatown, it is the smallest and the least populated district in Bangkok. Neighboring districts are (from north clockwise) Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bang Rak, Khlong San (across Chao Phraya River), and Phra Nakhon.

History

The area has been Chinese community since the early days of Bangkok. Originally living in what is now the Phra Nakhon district, they were relocated here when the capital was set up. The narrow Sampheng Road (สำเพ็ง, now called Wanit I Road, วานิช 1) was the chinatown main street until the Yaowarat Road was constructed in 1892 during King Chulalongkorn period. Nowadays, Yaowarat Road remains the heart of chinatown.

The area for Samphanthawong district was once three separate amphoes, Samphanthawong, Sam Yaek, and Chakkrawat established on 15 October 1915 where old amphoes were overhauled and replaced by 25 new amphoes to cover inner part of Bangkok. Amphoe Sam Yaek and Amphoe Chakkrawat were later merged into Amphoe Samphanthawong. The amphoe became Khet Samphanthawong in 1972. It is believed that the name Samphanthawong was derived from Wat Samphanthawongsaram, the temple near the district office when it was first built. Now the district office is moved to Yotha Road in Talat Noi sub-district.

Yaowarat Road

Yaowarat Road (เยาวราช) is about 1.5 km in length. Along both sides, many gold shops and all kinds of Chinese restaurants: noodle, rice, dim sum, bird's nest soup, etc. can be found. More shops, especially fruits, Chinese traditional medicine, can be found in walking lanes branching off the main road.Recently, a gate was built to celebrate King Bhumibol's 72nd birthday. It is located on Odeon Circle (named after a cinema once stood nearby) at one end of Yaowarat Road.

Temples and Shrines

Some of famous Thai Buddhist temples in the district are:
* Wat Traimit or Wat Trimit (วัดไตรมิตรวิทยารามวรวิหาร) is known for its giant Buddha image made from solid gold weigh about 5.5 tons. The gold was hidden under plaster for centuries until rediscovery in 1954.
* Wat Pathum Khongkha (วัดปทุมคงคา) is an ancient wat, renovated and renamed from Wat Sampheng during King Rama I period.
* Wat Chakkrawat (วัดจักรวรรดิราชาวาสมหาวิหาร) or Wat Sam Pluem (วัดสามปลื้ม)

Many Chinese temples and shrines are also here, for example:
* Leng Buai Ia Shrine (ศาลเจ้าเล่งบ๊วยเอี๊ยะ), the oldest shrine in the area, about 300 years old.
* Ah Nia Geng Shrine (ศาลเจ้าอาเนี้ยเก็ง) or Chue Pui Nia Nia Shrine (ศาลเจ้าฉื่อปุยเนี่ยเนี้ย), a shrine of Kuan Yin.
* Guan U Shrine (ศาลเจ้าพ่อกวนอู), shrine for Guan Yu and his horse Sek Tao.
* Thien Fah Foundation (มูลนิธิเทียนฟ้า), the first foundation registered in Thailand, established to provide health care for the poor. Inside there is a Kuan Yin shrine.
* Bunyasamakhom Shrine (ศาลเจ้าโรงเจบุญสมาคม)

The most famous Chinese temple in the area, Wat Leng Noei Yi (วัดเล่งเน่ยยี่, officially named Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, วัดมังกรกมลาวาส), lies just outside Samphanthawong boundary in the neighbor Pom Prap Sattru Phai District.

Other Places

There are other places of historic interest in Samphanthawong. Wat Mae Phra Luk Prakham (วัดแม่พระลูกประคำ) or Holy Rosary Church, located on the bank of Chao Phraya River, is one of the oldest Catholic church in Bangkok. It is more widely known by its older name Wat Kalawar (วัดกาลหว่าร์), named after Calvary. It was first built in 1787 during King Rama I period by settlers who migrated from Ayuthaya when the city was lost to Burma. The current building was constructed in 1890.

Close to the church is Thailand first commercial bank building. The building was constructed in 1904 and called Book Club (บุคคลัภย์). It now becomes Siam Commercial Bank. Also near the church is River City, a shopping center specialized in arts and antiques.

There are numerous markets around Samphanthawong. There are many shops and stalls along Yaowarat, Sampheng (now Wanit 1), and Charoen Krung roads, especially at night and during weekends. Saphan Lek, the older name of the bridge crossing Khlong Ong Ang canal on Charoen Krung Road, is a narrow strip along both sides of Khlong Ong Ang with lots of small shops selling goods. It is particularly known as a center for game consoles. Nearby is Woeng Nakhon Kasem (เวิ้งนครเกษม) or thieves market. The Khlong Thom Market (in Pom Prap Sattru Phai district), a famous market for low cost goods and electronics, is a large block of area just on the opposite side of Charoen Krung Road. The small roads inside the block are fully packed with stalls operating on Saturday nights till Sunday mornings.

Festivals

Several Chinese festivals are held here yearly. Yaowarat Road is often closed to traffic during the period.
* Chinese New Year Festival (เทศกาลตรุษจีน) is the biggest one with dragon dances, lion dances, and people dress in red.
* Mid-Autumn Festival (เทศกาลไหว้พระจันทร์) with shops selling mooncakes.
* Chinese Vegetarian Food Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ) (1st to 9th day of 9th lunar month) is a nine-day period when many Chinese practice vegetarianism and dress in white. All over Yaowarat Road, vegetarian food stalls with yellow flags and Chinese characters 齋 in red can be seen. Some foods really look like meat but are made from soybeans.

Administration

The district is sub-divided into 3 sub-districts ("Kwaeng").

References

*cite web
first = สมศักดิ์ ดำรงสุนทรชัย
title = ลัดเลาะเยาวราช ศึกษาตำนานการค้าที่ทรงวาดกับปูนซิเมนต์ไทย
work = นิตยสารผู้จัดการ มกราคม 2544
url = http://www.gotomanager.com/news/details.aspx?id=814
accessdate = 2006-08-24
(Thai only)
*cite web
first = ผู้จัดการรายวัน
title = โบสถ์คริสต์"อันซีน" ศิลปะผสานศรัทธา
url = http://www.thaiday.com/daily/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9470000100176
accessdate = 2006-08-24
(Thai only)

External links

* [http://www.bma.go.th/bmaeng/samphanthawong/ BMA website with the touristical landmarks of Samphanthawong]
* [http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/samphanthawong-museum.html Samphanthawong Museum]
* [http://www.wattraimit.com/ Wat Traimit] (Thai only)


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