Feeling trapped in Bangkok with no international flights has led us to be creative in explorations of our surroundings.
Travel outside of Bangkok has been relaxed. Checkpoints at the outskirts of the city have been removed and travel to other provinces is increasingly allowed. So, we rented a car and decided to take a good old fashioned road trip.
There are lots of ways to define one. Maybe it’s a minimum of two tanks of gas. Maybe it’s 2 hours away. Maybe it’s an overnight stay. Maybe it’s two cans of Pringles.
Ours was two tanks, four nights, 1000 kilometers, one can of Pringles, a bag of nuts, a pack of thai rice treats, some dried mango, and some street kettle corn.
We headed out into the weeds due north and back 800 years to the old town of Sukhothai, Thailand’s original capital with nearly 200 temples, many uniquely reflecting some architectural influence from the region, whether, Khmer, Hindu, or Sri Lankan, etc.
As with any good road trip, the best parts are the unexpected stops. Kamphaeng Phet or “Diamond Wall” is rural town that has it’s own heritage of temples and fortifications built to keep out Burmese invaders. It is not as big as Sukhothai, but it has it’s own character.
After seeing dozens and dozens of temples and wats, we moved onto the mountains of Khao Koh, hoping to do some hiking. The province of Phetchabun, though, had just opened up to tourists and the national parks had not. So, we were left to stop by some active temples instead.
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat temple is said to house the most beautiful Buddha in all of Thailand. It required three separate castings and it is said that on the third casting a man in white appeared to assist with the mold and when it was completed, he disappeared. Never to be seen again.
I sat for a while regarding this. Trying to see what made him more beautiful than the others. I asked several Thais, they said it is just accepted that this one is most beautiful, but there are not qualifications. I thought his nose was a bit on the biggish side.
We also stopped by Wat Pha Sorn Kaew temple which is a working temple and reminds one of Gaudi’s La Sacrada Familia. Millions of tiles and mosaics on one side. 5 polished porcelain buddhas on the other. All perched in the hills. It is a wondrous place to explore.
The 9 pagoda temple was our last stop before heading home. It is definitely a work in progress, but will truly be something when completed, with great views over the farmlands below.
It was a good 5 days. Somethings old. Somethings new. Farms, kites, rice and stacks of the most adorable tiny watermelons that you could imagine. Along the way, we discovered not only a new kind of dried mango, but the tamarind vinegar and honey soda. And this is our new addiction and something worth another road trip.