Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Udon Thani & Ban Chiang

Udon Thani is a good 6hr drive from Bangkok on Hwy 2. The U.S. used to have a strategic airbase here during the Vietnam war era and I remember reading somewhere construction of Hwy 2 was funded by the U.S.

The city itself is not a main attraction for me but the village of Ban Chiang is. It is known to be the earliest archaeological site in S.E. Asia and listed as a UNESCO heritage site. There are many web sites providing background info on this.

A detour to Uborat Dam off Hwy 2, 50Km from the Ubon Ratchasima (Korat) city. It is named after the Princess Uboratna.

An intricately designed display item at hotel.. appears to me it has Laotian influence than Thai

Even the flowers arrangement seem to be different from traditional Thai.

Flowers garlands sold by street stalls.

We finally reached Ban Chiang which is about 50km outside Udon Thani. A new museum is under construction and a temporary one exhibited many artifacts.

The excavation site is actually on a temple ground.

Ban Chiang pottery unearthed here has its distinctive style.. it is being duplicated as tourists souvenirs; skillfully painted by vendors.

Motorized tricycle up north are different in design too.

Images of temple we passed on the way. Interesting gate design with Wheel of Karma encircled by 2 Nagas.

A fruit stall at a sleepy town.. most of them fell asleep. One customer picked her purchase, weighed it and leave money on table. How's that to run a business!

Pick up transport is among my favorite photo subjects.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pak Chong

Pak Chong, a typical Thai town, has places of interest in its vicinity. If you come from Bangkok on Hwy 2, the turn off to Khao Yai is to the right while Pak Chong is to the left.

Google Pic perspective of the area - Khao Yai NP, Khao Yai Valley & Pak Chong + main roads

Holiday Park Resort with charming garden landscape & scenic backdrop

Vineyards are around too! Or did I get it wrong? Sign post read "Grapery"!

There are many holiday homes in the area but this Thai design is most impressive.

The lake north of Pak Chong along Hwy 2, with a public park. Saw locals dived to spear carps with home made spear guns!

Sun set by the lake..

Dozens of restaurants along lake shore, salt coated grilled fish are fresh & irresistible! Coke & Pepsi are in super large glass bottles!

Thong Somboon Club, a leisure park little south of the town, provides Thais a taste of cowboy lifestyle.

Served by cowgirls...

& cowboys of course!

School children heading home! Guess how many in there?

Transporting Buddha, covered in robes, along Hwy 2 & doing 100kmph photographing with eyes off the road! Buddhas has to jam pack like humans too!

Starry eyes Buddha image at a small temple!

Largest custard apples I've seen, > 1 Kg each! Bought 1/2 dozen of the largests... that's my joy!

Khao Yai Valley

On the way to Khao Yai National Park is Khao Yai Valley which I am very fond of too, once featured in Bangkok Post travel magazine as an up and coming place for the well heeled Bangkokians. It is pleasant for a scenic drive with cool climate around.

To my surprise, there are vineyards here. Granmonte vineyard where I stopped by for a coffee...

... and enjoyed the cool scenic surrounds.

Vineyard of Granmonde

Another vineyard is the PB Valley, seen it on TV travel show before. So it is a nice surprise to chance upon it. It has nice chalets on hill top...

...providing scenic views of the property & feeling of wide open spaces around.

Vineyards of PB Valley.

If you like to check out more at PB Valley's web site:

A golf course here caught my attention too at Mission Hills Country Club.
Lovely setting, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Khao Yai National Park

I love mountains. While looking for highlands nearest to Bangkok some years ago, the Khao Yai (Big Mountain in Thai) region caught my attention. It is about 2 hr drive N.E. from Bangkok.

The Khao Yai National Park is the first national park of Thailand and listed as a World Heritage site. Highest peak here is about 1350M and this area has an average temperature around 23 degrees.

Much of the mountains are covered with evergreen forests.

Sign posts along the road suggests wild animals such as elephants or even tigers are around. There are salt pans and drinking holes seen off the road too. Some how I didn't feel unsafe or threaten by wild animals. Droppings on the road are evident they do come out perhaps in the night.

Story of tiger attacked at rangers quarters in 1998 at visitor center.

Scenic lookouts at Pha Deaw Dai with over hanging tree

There are several waterfalls within the park too.

Kids venturing out in spite of warning signs of danger

A touch of humor with these sticks supporting the boulders.

Miniature elephants atop fencing posts guards the pathway leading to waterfall below.

After a steep descent, the view is rewarding! Wish the safety barriers are higher.

More info about Khao Yai National Park at this official site: