Thailand: Up Country

Kantharalak: Khao Phra Wihan, Cambodia

Kantharalak

Thailand

Phra Wihan

Cambodia

December 1, 2004

Dear Family and Friends,

Giacomo and I traveled east from Nang Rong, a five hour bus ride to Kantharalak, and checked into the Kantharalak Palace Hotel.

The next morning we hired motor-bike taxis and sped south to the Dangrek Range, the mountains of the Thai-Cambodia border.

Unexpectedly, our drivers took us first to Khao Phra Wihan National Park - one of the sites designated as "Unseen Thailand." I'm glad we saw it.

Down a long railed stairway, past the "good luck" sticks "holding up" the mountain, was a small sensitively carved bas-relief executed directly into the sheer face of the cliff, looking outward to the deep valley and plains below. The smooth and detailed images are a mystery to the archaeologists.

Then, across the border to the main site.

Udon Thani, Chaiyaphum, Ban Phai, Ban Chiang: "Ancient Swirls"

Udon Thani

Thailand

March 8, 2005

Dear Family and Friends,

I got tired of just sitting around at The Honey Inn so after a few days of R&R I hit the road again, this time heading to northeast Thailand.

It was a short but "monumental" ten day trip. Even a little bizarre.

Chaiyaphun. I thought was going to see a silk-weaving village outside of town but in the searing heat and under the penetrating and debilitating sun I lost my patience. (Another couple I met later in the day had the same problem. On the way out of town, on the bus, we saw the sign, facing the "wrong" direction.)

Ban Phue, Tham Erawan: Bolders Bizarre

March 9, 2005

Udon.

 

Another day trip. This one began at 07:30. After staggering and swirling around town looking for the right bus station, on my third try, three motor bikes later, I found the 09:00 mini-bus to Ban Phue where I hop yet another motorbike to Bhu Prabat. (I may be an experienced traveler but my Thai is just good enough to get me into trouble on occasion.)

Bhu Prabat Historical Park. A peculiar mix of pre-historic cave paintings, bizarre geological formations and Buddhist shrines.

"The formations are a collection of balanced rocks, spires and whale-sized boulders with several shrines and three wat built in and around them."

Nong Khai: Sala Kaew Ku: "Buddhas Bizarre"

March 10, 2005

 

Nong Khai. "More than 620km from Bangkok and 55km from Udon Thani, Nong Khai is where Highway 2 ends, at the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River. Across the river is the Lao People's Democratic Republic."

Some people love it here. I hated it. Typical border-town phlegmatic attitude and apathetic behavior. So un-typical Thai. But to follow my own travel philosophy, "Be happy where you are," I decided to see the sights.

Nang Rong: "Jan the Caterer"

Nang Rong

Buriram Province

Thailand

March 11, 2005

 

My Dear Party Animals,

"I old woman," my friend Lek said to me. "Lek thirty!"

My friend Lek works here in Nang Rong. Her daughter, mother, sister, brother, nephews and nieces all live in Ayutthaya, many hours away.

I decided that Lek would have a proper Birthday celebration with her friends and colleagues. I would cater a dinner-dance at The Honey Inn in Nang Rong.

Also on the Invitation List were our mutual friends, members of Phanna's family and other guests at the Inn.

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