Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Visit to The Bangsaen Institute of Marine Science

Today, Epril and I joined Geoff and Honey Mae for a visit to the Institute of Marine Science located in Bangsaen on the campus of Burapha University. This is a really great aquarium located about 30 kilometers north of Pattaya, on the far side of the town of Sri Racha. The aquarium was originally opened in 1969, and was expanded in 1980 with the help of a large grant from the government of Japan. The aquarium was built as an educational center, and houses 180 species of fish.

The cost to get into the aquarium is 100 baht for foreigners and 30 baht for Thai residents. I am quite happy to say that for the first time, I have attended a tourist attraction in Thailand that does not charge based on skin color: If you have a Thai driver's license, than no matter what color your skin is, you pay the Thai resident's price.

Of course, the immediate question that comes to mind is a comparison with "Underwater World", Pattaya's aquarium (400 baht for white skin, 200 baht for brown skin). The truth is that once you get past the gimmick of walking through a glass tunnel past the fish in Underwater World, the Burapha University aquarium is better. The species of fish on display are more varied, and the quality of the displays and aquariums and flora is on a level much better than the "cementscape" that passes for a marine environment at Underwater World. Here at Burapha, you can see real coral reefs, and real seaweed growing in real sand.

I really can't say too much more about the place. It simply has hundreds of different kind of interesting and pretty fish to look at. If that is something that interests you, then I can highly recommend the Bangsaen Institute of Marine Science of Burapha Univeristy (and it's more equitable admission fees) over Underwater World. Take Sukhimvit Road north through Sri Racha, and then pass through the next smaller downtown area called Nongmon Market, and then turn left at the first traffic light immediately after that. Go down the road about 3 kilometers until you see the entrance for Burapha University on your left. The left turn about 20 meters past the university's main entrance is the entrance to the aquarium parking lot.

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