North towards Korat

26 December 2023

Sunsets, Steam Trains, Dragon, and Skewers!

The first rays of a beautiful sunrise streamed through our window as we began this day, a perfect start to our post-Christmas adventures. A simple breakfast of coffee and WeetBix fueled us up for the journey ahead.

By 8:30am, we were hitting the road, heading north towards Nakhon Pathom. As with any good travel story, there’s always room for a detour! And sure enough, we soon found ourselves veering off course.

Our long-awaited visit to the Jesada Technik Museum finally arrived at 12:30pm. While we were aware of the museum’s relocation, we held onto a sliver of hope that there might still be something to see. Unfortunately, this leg of the journey wasn’t quite what we had envisioned. The silver lining? We did get to see some fascinating old steam trains and aircraft, remnants of a bygone era. While a complete museum experience wasn’t in the cards this time, we vowed to try again next year.

With renewed determination, we found our hotel by 3pm. The view from our room was simply stunning – Wat Phra Pathomchedi rising majestically in the distance. It was a sight that never failed to impress.

By 5pm, our rumbling stomachs led us to explore Wat Phra Pathomchedi on foot. The night markets surrounding the temple offered a vibrant atmosphere and a chance to sample the local fare. Kebabs were our dinner of choice, and they were absolutely delicious! As we savored our meal, the setting sun cast a warm glow across the entire area, creating a truly magical scene. It was the perfect way to end a day that, despite a slight museum misstep, offered unexpected delights and breathtaking beauty.

27 December 2023

Dragons, Documentaries, and Delicious Departures!

This day was all about ticking long-awaited visits off our list, and it did not disappoint! Our adventure began at 10am with a pilgrimage to Wat Samphran, also known as the Dragon Temple. This magnificent landmark had captivated us for years, and seeing it in person was truly awe-inspiring.

The towering 17-story pink cylindrical temple adorned with a colossal green dragon wrapped around it was a sight to behold. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by the maechis, the temple’s female residents, who were clad in their traditional white robes and shaved heads.

Our exploration began with a walk up the very structure that formed the dragon’s body from the outside. The climb led us to the top, where we were rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views. Here, we had the privilege of a heartwarming conversation with two maechis, aged 53 and 65. The time we spent with them, learning about their lives and experiences, was a truly treasured moment. The kindness and friendliness of all the maechis at the Wat truly enriched our visit.

By 1:30pm, we were on the move again, this time to the Thai Film Archive. This cultural institution, dedicated to the conservation of Thai cinema as a national treasure, was a fascinating place to wander. Our exploration took us through exhibits showcasing film history, movie sets, and even some intriguing production vehicles and a vintage steam train. It was a delightful journey through the evolution of Thai cinema.

With a day packed with cultural immersion, we decided to conclude it with a bit of practicality and a touch of indulgence. A stop at Lotus’s Centre ensured we had everything we needed, followed by a refreshing coffee break at Amazons. Finally, we capped off the day with an early dinner at KFC, a familiar comfort food favorite.

Back at the hotel, we settled in for an early evening, our hearts brimming with the memories of the day’s discoveries and the warmth of human connection. It was a perfect prelude to our impending departure.

28 December 2023

Beating Traffic, Big Buddhas, and Unexpected Encounters!

Our final leg of the adventure began with a strategic move to avoid the anticipated heavy Bangkok traffic heading north. Opting for a clockwise route around the outskirts proved to be a wise decision. By 9am, we were captivated by a sight so intriguing that we had to stop – a temple under construction, the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin Thung Phichai Temple. We could already envision its magnificent beauty upon completion.

As we continued our journey down a main road around 9:45am, our eyes did a double take. There, in the middle of the road, was what appeared to be a grounded 747! A closer look revealed it to be strategically positioned, creating the illusion of a mid-takeoff. This unexpected sight provided a truly unique photo opportunity, a perfect example of the surprising discoveries you can make while on the road.

Our next stop at 10:15am was Wat Tha Chedi, a temple offering a rather unconventional collection of highlights. Replicas of iconic landmarks like Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Singapore’s Merlion Statue, and even Belgium’s Atomium and a Dutch windmill graced the grounds. It was a whimsical and somewhat surprising blend of architectural styles.

Continuing our temple tour, we arrived at Wat Phai Rong Wua by noon. This impressive site boasted a central white Buddha statue towering 56 meters tall – a truly awe-inspiring sight.

By 1:45pm, after battling some traffic congestion, we decided to revisit a place that had left us speechless 12 months ago: the Wat Buddha Sang Dham complex. The sheer scale of this complex is truly staggering. Its centerpiece is a massive silver steel dome that enshrines a 50-meter-tall white Buddha statue. It was a powerful reminder of the grandeur of Buddhist architecture.

Finally reaching our hotel in Nongkhai by 3pm, we were greeted by a staircase with a cheeky calorie counter – a detail that brought a smile to our faces. The lack of an elevator wasn’t a deterrent, just another quirk of our chosen accommodation.

As the day drew to a close, we ventured out at 6pm to explore the local area and find some food. Our exploration led us to Buan Heng Tua Almshouse, a location that offered a picturesque backdrop for sunset photos. But the real magic happened here.

Around 6:30pm, we encountered some incredibly welcoming locals. Hospitality knows no bounds, and soon we found ourselves enjoying drinks and conversation with these new friends. While we chatted, Alison heroically ventured out to find some local food, returning with delicious treats for all of us.

By 8pm, we were back at the hotel, our hearts full of warmth and the memories of an exceptional evening. The unexpected connections we made and the genuine kindness we experienced were the perfect way to end our adventure, leaving us with a lasting impression of Thai hospitality.

29 December 2023

Gigantic Buddhas, Hidden Caves, and Heartfelt Farewells!

The last day of our adventure dawned with the promise of yet another incredible discovery.

Our research hinted at a monumental temple complex nearby, and it did not disappoint! Wat Pa Sawang Bun in Saraburi province left us speechless. Under construction, the centerpiece of this complex was a reclining Buddha that defied imagination. At a staggering 209 meters long, it was a sight to behold. Construction cranes, usually associated with towering skyscrapers, dwarfed in comparison to this future giant. We arrived at 11am, and the sheer scale of the project was truly overwhelming.

By 1:30pm, we were on the move again, this time to Wat Tham Phra Phothisat. A stark contrast to the grandeur of Wat Pa Sawang Bun, this temple offered a serene beauty. Nestled amidst lush forests and majestic limestone mountains, it exuded a sense of tranquility. We opted to explore the network of steps and walkways that snaked around the temple grounds, thoroughly enjoying the fresh air and the natural scenery. Several caves beckoned us to explore, and despite the heat within, they offered a glimpse into the hidden wonders of the area.

Back at our hotel by 6pm, we were surprised and delighted by an invitation to join our new friends for another evening of fun. This time, their friend with a food truck joined the party, transforming the gathering into a lively celebration. The evening was filled with laughter, delicious food, and genuine warmth. Thai hospitality once again shone through, leaving us with a profound sense of gratitude for the connections we had made during our trip. As we said our goodbyes, we carried the hope of reuniting with these wonderful people on a future adventure.

This Thailand adventure had been a whirlwind of cultural immersion, breathtaking sights, unexpected encounters, and the ever-present spirit of Thai hospitality. From the bustling markets to the serene temples, from the delicious cuisine to the welcoming smiles, every experience had enriched our lives and left us with lasting memories.