Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Khao Yai

Monday 26 March: Today's a half-day trip organised by the guesthouse. First our sharp-eyed guide spots a long red-snouted green Cicada in a tree then a long brown millipede and an Oriental Whip Snake by the roadside - this is great. We stop at a swimming hole to see Stick Insects hidden in the foliage then continue to a sacred bat cave alive with creatures of the night - woolly centipedes and hordes of Wrinkle-lipped Bats lurking in the depths. But the highlight of the day is out in the sunshine just before dusk when an estimated two-million bats swarm out of their mountain lair into the wind and towards the scent of insects. This truly astonishing phenomena lasts about an hour but we are not the only spectators - hungry raptors attack the swarm swooping in for an easy meal. What a spectacular day but it's not quite over - in the blackness of night the planets Venus and Jupiter line up with a crescent moon.
Tuesday 27: Today's a long day-trip into Khao Yai National Park - fuzzy Gibbons, Muntjack deer, elusive Great Hornbills and a glossy black Scorpion ready to strike.
Greenleaf Guesthouse
(200Bt), Tanarat Road (7.5km marker), Pak Chong, basic but spacious good value en-suite.

Photos in and around Khao Yai National Park plus a 'Bats out of Hell' video.

Monday, 9 April 2012


Friday 23 March: I arrive in Nakhon Ratchasima, which everyone knows by it's old name of Khorat, an ancient walled and moated stronghold with a central statue of the city's heroine, Thao Suranari, who led the townsfolk to victory over Lao invaders. At Wat Phayap a beautiful cave, rescued by a local monk from destruction by quarrying, has been rebuilt here in the form of a shrine - unique. My favourite though is the stunning moated temple of Wat Phra Narai Maharat.
Saturday 24: A bus ride away is Phimai Historical Park with another fine temple from Khmer times.
Chumphol Hotel is a good practical local en-suite option as those in my guidebook are inconveniently located or closed.

Photos of Khorat and Phimai Historic Park.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Thailand: Nang Rong

Wednesday 21 March: Motorcycle taxi (50Bt) from the border to Aranya Prathet's bus station for a local bus north to Nang Rong and the welcoming Honey Inn guesthouse. This is northeast Thailand where few signs are in Roman script and few people speak English but I like it, there's fewer tourists.
Thursday 22: Nang Rong is a crossroads, a transport hub and a base for visiting nearby Khmer ruins. So, hiring a motorbike for the day (the first since I fractured my foot in Lombok, Indonesia), I'm off. Prasat Phanom Rung, my first stop, is an impressive laterite and sandstone temple atop an extinct volcano. In the style of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but with landscaped and manicured lawns, it could almost pass for an English manor house, well, apart from the Khmer prang or tower. The approach promenade, stairways and naga bridges are also impressive. Further east and of similar design is the smaller but moated Prasat Mueang Tam. A long hot bike ride and all day I've been humming Arlo Guthrie's Motorcycle Song:

I don't want a pickle
Just want to ride on my motorsickle
And I don't want a tickle
'Cause I'd rather ride on my motorsickle
And I don't want to die
Just want to ride on my motor cycle

So I'm glad to get off of Highway 6, busy with sugar-cane juggernauts with trailers thundering by, and be back in my comfortable en-suite room at the friendly Honey Inn (250Bt) in one piece.

Photos of Phanom Rung and Mueang Tam.