Onwards to Bangkok

15 February 2023 – NC Day 9

Steve and I set out on an adventure today, exploring territory we had never been to before. We drove to the most eastern point in Thailand, close to the Emerald Triangle, where Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand meet.

We first tried to visit the Cambodian temple Preah Vihear, but we were turned away at the Forestry Entry Point. We were asked for 200B each to drive in a short distance, but we decided not to pay. We turned around and continued our trip east to Wat Sam Sawan.

Wat Sam Sawan is a beautiful temple complex with a large reclining Buddha statue. We spent some time exploring the temple and taking photos.

Next, we drove into the mountains to Wat Namtok Tham Bon Charoen Tham. This small temple is located on a waterfall, and it was a beautiful spot to relax and take in the scenery.

Our last stop of the day was Wat Sirindhorn Wararam Phu Phrao. This temple is situated on a hilltop overlooking the Mekong River. It is one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen, and it was especially magical at night when the fluorescent patterns painted on the grounds glowed in the evening light.

We arrived back at the Hotel The Bliss Ubon late, but we were all exhausted and happy from our day of exploring. It was a hugely satisfying day, and we can’t wait to come back and explore more of this amazing region again one day.

16 February 2023 – NC Day 10

This morning we all set off on a journey west along the border with Cambodia. We had read about a Thai-Cambodian temple that was under joint control, and we were eager to see it.

The first temple we visited was Wat Khaosala. It was a beautiful temple with a long entrance walkway that led up to a pair of dragons. The views from the top of the walkway were breathtaking, and we could see for miles across the Cambodian countryside.

By 3:30pm, we had reached Prasat Ta Muen Thom. We met with some of the local soldiers who would escort us into Cambodia. They were happy to pose for photos and chat with us in their broken English. We also met one of the Cambodian soldiers on site. It was fascinating to see the three temples that had been fought over during wars.

Neil and Connie had been coming down with colds, so we decided to head back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, we were not aware that the hotel we had chosen, the Amari Buriram United Hotel, had recently been flooded. The downstairs room they gave us was terrible, so we were upgraded to an upstairs room.

We went out for dinner that night after visiting a local pharmacy to get some cough drops for Neil and Connie. We found a great restaurant that served traditional Thai food at the local night markets.

17 February 2023 – NC Day 11

Our night at the Amari Buriram Hotel wasn’t as good as we had hoped. The room we had changed to was acceptable, but it proved to be a little noisy. Up to midnight, we could hear the thump thump of some sort of party machine, and then some big noises around 4am. This kept Alison awake, although everyone else managed to sleep well enough.

Due to this, and the fact that rooms over the weekend were going to cost a bit more, we decided to move on. So we got moving after deciding we were going to go back to the Centara Korat for another night. We managed to get the last couple of rooms, at a reasonable price.

We headed straight through to Nakhon Ratchasima, which took a couple of hours. As we knew that our check-in time could be as late as 3pm, we made a stop at Big C to pick up some beers and some medicines for Neil’s cough.

We arrived at Centara Korat just after 1pm and Neil and Connie were able to get to their room just after 1.30pm. Our room wasn’t available until after 3pm. So we went and had a bit of lunch (yummy pizza from Tops Bakery) and had a wander around the Central shopping centre.

We were able to get to our room just after 3pm. Our room was on the 18th floor. Quite a view.

We had a bit of a rest for a while. Steve went up to the pool area on the 20th floor and found Neil and Connie resting up around the pool. Steve grabbed a couple of bottles of Chang and we had warm beers in glasses of cold ice. Different, but not unpleasant.

Around 5.45pm, we headed over to the food court of the centre for a pleasant meal.

A quiet day, but sometimes you need that when some people aren’t feeling well.

18 February 2023 – NC Day 12

Steve and I left our hotel at 9:30 am and headed south to the 100-year-old bridge where we had previously stopped in 2018. We made a quick stop for fuel at PTT and a muffin stop at 7-Eleven. The drive to the bridge was uneventful, passing through agricultural land and across some torn-up roads.

When we arrived at the bridge, we were surprised to see that it was in worse condition than we remembered. The wooden walkway was sagging and creaking, and it was clear that it wouldn’t be safe to walk across for much longer. We were also disappointed to see that the wooden frame at the beginning of the walkway was gone. It had framed the picture so well when we were here in 2018.

Despite the condition of the bridge, we decided to walk across it anyway. We carefully made our way across the walkway, being careful not to put too much weight on it. As we walked, we could hear the music from the nearby crematorium. It was a strange and eerie sound, but it also added to the atmosphere of the place.

After we crossed the bridge, we took some photos and then headed back to our car. We were disappointed that we couldn’t walk the entire length of the walkway, but we were glad that we had made the trip. It was a unique and unforgettable experience.

We decided to head south towards a river valley viewpoint, but we were turned back at a National Park checkpoint due to road closures. We were disappointed, but we decided to head back to the main road and explore some other places.

We ended up spending the rest of the day driving around and exploring the countryside. We saw some beautiful scenery and visited some interesting places. It was a great day, and we were glad that we had decided to explore the area around the 100-year-old bridge.

19 February 2023

We left the Canal304 hotel early in the morning, with the intention of dropping Neil and Connie off in Bangkok before continuing our adventure back to Chiang Mai by ourselves.

By 11:30am, we had said our goodbyes to Neil and Connie and left them at the Amari Don Muang Hotel near the airport. We hoped that we wouldn’t catch their colds, which they had both been suffering from for a few days. We wished them a speedy recovery and thanked them for a fun time exploring Bangkok with us. We will miss them.

Just after 12pm, we reached our first temple for the day. There were two temples that we hadn’t been able to show Neil and Connie, and we didn’t want to miss out on them. The first was Dhammakaya Temple. This place is the biggest complex of temples that we’ve ever visited. It’s almost impossible to imagine how much money must have been spent on its construction.

Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, is located in the district of Klong Luang, Pathum Thani Province, just north of Bangkok, Thailand. The grand complex was founded by the maechi (Buddhist nun) Chandra Khonnokyoong and a monk, Luang Por Dhammajayo. They started the Dhammakaya Movement, which has become the fastest-growing Buddhist tradition in Thailand.

The massive temple is built on 77 acres of land donated by a kind sponsor, Lady Prayad Pattayapongsavisuttatibodi, on her birthday. The land was originally a huge rice field without a single tree or building in sight.

We spent several hours exploring the Dhammakaya Temple complex. We visited the main meditation hall, the library, and the museum. We also took a walk through the gardens and admired the beautiful architecture.

After we left the Dhammakaya Temple, we drove to our next destination, Wat Phra Phuttha Saengtham. This temple complex is even larger than the Dhammakaya Temple, and it’s still under construction.

Wat Phra Phuttha Saengtham is a huge complex of temple buildings set on 300 rai of land (nearly 50 hectares). The site is dominated by a massive new-age silver-colored structure in the elliptical shape intended to resemble an overturned monk’s alms bowl. The elliptical dome stands some 40 meters high and is easily spotted from Highway 1 south of Saraburi.

The temple construction was initiated in 2012, but many parts are still not completed. Many smaller buildings are completed, however, and the site has the capacity to hold thousands of devotees at a time. Even if you’re not Buddhist or have religious inclinations, the grandeur of the construction and the interesting architecture are well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

We spent a few hours exploring the Wat Phra Phuttha Saengtham temple complex. We visited the main meditation hall and drove around a few other areas. We also took a walk through the gardens and admired the beautiful architecture.

By the time we left Wat Phra Phuttha Saengtham, it was getting late in the afternoon. We drove north to our hotel, the B2. We arrived at the hotel around 6pm and quickly checked in.

We were both exhausted from our day of exploring, so we decided to walk to a near by cafe for dinner. We both ordered the chicken massaman curry, and it was delicious! We enjoyed it so much that we ordered a second to share.

After dinner, we watched a movie on TV and then went to bed. We were both looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep so that we could be well-rested for our journey back to Chiang Mai the next day.

20 February 2023

Steve and I got an early start for Chiang Mai today. Our first stop was Pao Pak V8 Boat Noodle Cafe. This little roadside cafe is known for its delicious boat noodles and its extensive collection of memorabilia. We spent a while taking photos.

For lunch, we headed to BigC Lamphun and Mr DYI. These two stores are located in the same shopping center and they offer a wide variety of goods, from groceries to electronics to home decor. We spent a little time browsing the aisles and picking up a few things.

Finally, we arrived back at 3Seasons Hotel. We were greeted by the smiling faces of our friends, who were happy to see us. We all sat down and relaxed shared some of the photos we had taken on over this 2 week trip.