Rainy Nights in Surin & Sisaket
Going touring during the rainy season is usually OK, but this time was different, a massive storm called Podul had caused flooding already in parts of the North East.
When the storm had passed Tim and I were driving(*) to Surin, planning to visit our friend Ray who lives in a tiny village somewhere in Prasat and do some sightseeing in the area, although another storm was announced.
Once out of Bangkok it began to rain and never really stopped, a clear indication of what was waiting for us.
Mid afternoon we arrived at our friend’s place and were welcomed by his dog pack.
The remainder of the day was spent discussing possible plans, enjoying Na’s cooking and drinking some refreshing liquids…
Next morning it was still raining but following a serious breakfast we departed for neighboring province Sisaket.
2 hours later we were trying hard not to get soaking wet while ‘admiring’ Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, also known as The Million Bottle Temple.
Despite an intriguing name we were seriously underwhelmed, most of the bottles used were brownish with just a few green ones to create some variation, but the overall effect wasn’t great, of course the continuous rain didn’t help at all.
Slightly more artistic I thought were some of the statues (incl. some Buddhas) with small mosaic tiles used for decoration.
We continued driving, skirting the occasional pothole and obnoxious dogs who for unknown reasons prefer to walk/sleep on the road…
Next destination was a waterfall in the Khun Han district but after 2 sign posts turned out to be ‘invisible’, something we’d encountered before, road signage in Thailand can be haphazard to say the least.
Also important to keep in mind is that Google Maps doesn’t differentiate between paved roads and swampy dirt tracks!
We considered lunch more important and found a decent place just before entering our real destination: Khao Phra Wihan National Park, near the Cambodian border.
This used to be a disputed area between Thailand and Cambodia with an ancient Khmer temple (Preah Vihar) caught in the middle, causing several skirmishes between the countries’ armies over the years.
Nowadays it’s a very quiet area as Preah Vihar temple is part of Cambodia.
Luckily Pha Mo E-Dang (3 Buddha carvings on a cliffside) can still be visited and spectacular views can be had…, IF it doesn’t rain!
Unnecessary to say perhaps our views were rather limited although once and a while we could see parts of a mountain ridge in the distance coming out of the mist.
The Buddha carvings are protected from potential graffiti artists by a ‘door’ which unfortunately results most visitors taking similar looking photos as there isn’t much space to maneuver your camera…
Also visible far away was the disputed temple itself, however as of 2015 it is not possible to access Preah Vihear from Thailand.
Why both countries couldn’t reach a compromise and let tourists coming from Thailand just get a day pass to enter Cambodia is a shame really, but nationalists on both sides see this completely different.(**)
Next was finding a place to stay which we did eventually in nearby Kantharalak, a considerable town which according to Google Maps has no hotels in its center.
We stayed in Prasopsook Ville Hotel, a very clean 2 star place with large rooms and everything in good working order, right in the center, eat your heart out Google!
The rain continued unabated and cut down our umbrella covered walkabout in town considerably.
The night was uneventful except for angry rain gods who didn’t let up…
As a result we decided the next day to adjust our trip and return to Surin as the risk of flooded roads seemed highly possible.
By the time we were back in Surin Province the rain slowly fizzled out!
Just before Ray’s home is a very strange building in the shape of a massive turtle under construction. Its purpose is unclear but it might become another OTOP store.
As the rain had turned the surrounding area into very muddy clay we couldn’t go inside and had to take photos from afar.
Back home we went for a walk across the fields accompanied by Ray’s faithful dog pack, which led to occasional barking wars with neighboring dogs who obviously didn’t approve of this invasion…
The remainder of the day was uneventful but pleasantly enough as it stayed dry at least.
Our last day began with a khao tom power breakfast and Ray took us to a nearby relatively unknown Khmer ruin: Prasat Lalomtom, a Hindu temple built during the 11th - 12th century.
Even Google only shows Ray’s 2016 posts on his blogs (***) about it, however in Thai (ประสาทละลมทม) will get you plenty of hits.
Some restoration had been done in the past and a faded sign with Thai and English info was still standing.
On the way back we stopped briefly at Wat Samrajnookhul, a Singapore sponsored temple, with unusual statues of the Chinese zodiac.
Along the way Ray pointed out a failed Thai-Chinese attempt to build a tapioca drying machine, a curious looking contraption to say the least.
Tim and I said goodbye and drove onwards along route 224 to Buriram where we stopped at Prasat Thong in Ban Kruat, another Hindu temple from the 12th century, but in much better condition than Prasat Lalomtom.
We made a few more stops through Sa Kaeo looking in vain for (according to Google Maps just beside the road) ‘wineries’, but instead spotted a Thai flag roofed Wat Tha Chang Prachasan!
Later that day it started raining heavily again and by the time we reached Bangkok traffic had turned gridlocked…, welcome back home!
(*) I did the navigation using my expert Dutch guiding skills, which Tim usually completely ignored and purposely drove any other direction….
Update; as usual it’s a spelling problem, the temple’s sign clearly shows ‘Prasat Lalomtom’, but try googling ‘Prasat Lalom Thom’ and bingo!
P.s. Ray & Na have some lovely cats as well!