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My friend Henk Landkroon, from Groningen in the Netherlands, has an excellent photoblog: STORMBLAST1953

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bike Ride to Khok Kruat

Khok Kruat is a small town about 11K (6 miles) due west of my home. Although it is rapidly being absorbed by metropolitan Korat, it still retains a measure of individuality. The road I take parallels the main highway, but is relatively uncrowded and still rural enough to still be lined with rice fields. There are many small villages along the way.

Khok Kruat railway station, looking east, toward Korat.

Not many of these old wooden stations left.

Rice fields across from the station.

Station Master's house.

Only four trains a day stop in Khok Kruat, two "up" (one to Surin and one to Khon Kaen) and two "down" (toward Bangkok). The photo is of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, daughter of the King, pictured at the Hua Hin railway station.

Khok Kruat still has many nice old wooden buildings.

Sunset over the rails at Khok Kruat train station.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chinese New Year

We went to Mam's parents' house to celebrate Chinese New Year.

The obligatory red lanterns.

Folding paper money to be offered to the ancestors.

Offerings of food, paper money and paper representations of other goods are set on tables beneath the ancestor portrats.

Offering incense.

Burning the paper money and other paper stuff. (The food will be consumed after the ancestors get their shot at it.)

Even the paper "Gucci" shoes go up in smoke.

The paper money. Notice the name of the bank.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Surin and Phimai

Mam had some work in Surin province, so I went along for the ride. Not much happening in Surin. The Surin Wiki Travel page has nothing in the "See" section and the "Do" section is prefaced by, "Surin is not the most picturesque spot on the Earth,,,,"

I did walk around the center of town in the vicinity of the bus and train stations:

Approaching the train station along the rails.

This strange figure was guarding the entrance to a downtown wat (temple).

Surin's City Pillar is housed in this modern Khmer-style shrine. The shrine is also believe to house the spirit of the city.

Most city pillars in Thailand are not that old and were built in provincial capitals to symbolize central power. This one was erected in 1974.

We decided to take Google Map's recommendation as to the route home. This took us through Phimai where we had lunch and took some time to visit Phimai Historical Park.

Phimai is a Khmer, Angkor-era Hindu temple. It was restored in the late 1960s by French archeologists and the Thai Fine Arts Department. Some of it is very well preserved. It doesn't get many visitors.

(Wikipedia says that Phimai was built as a Buddhist temple. I don't see much evidence of that. All of the architectural sculpture is of Hindu deities and scenes from Hindu mythology. I think it likely that the Khmers wisely allowed the complex to be used by the locals as a Buddhist temple. Buddhism was introduced in the area 500 years before, during the Dvaravati period.)

Ongoing excavation of the inner moat and wall.

The central sanctuary is made of sandstone while the red prangs (towers) are made of laterite stone.

I think the central figure on this lintel is the Hindu deity, Hanuman. In this form he normally has five heads and five pairs of arms. Here I see the ten arms, but only one head.

There are many numbered stones throughout the grounds waiting for more restoration work. These are probably from collapsed enclosing walls.

The "Click to see in Google Maps" link below shows the location of Phimai Historical Park.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Café Sixteen

Cafe Sixteen is a relatively new restaurant and coffee shop in Korat.

Looks kind of plain from the outside.

But the inside is very nicely decorated.

They have mostly pasta dishes and desserts.

The indoors is spacious and air conditioned.

Nice view of the garden from inside.

They have a good selection of wine.

We shared a Caesar Salad and then had some very delicious spaghetti.

The carrot cake was wonderful

They have a nice garden for outdoor dining.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Much of Mam's family went up north to Chiangmai and Chiang Rai for the New Year holiday. They came home with a big basket full of strawberries. My solution? Strawberry shortcake.

Never mind the pink plates....

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas in Krabi

We'd been planning to visit the deep south beaches for quite a while. We had a trip all planned last Christmas, but changed destinations because of foul weather. We made it to Koh Lanta (island) in Krabi Province this year. We were there for five nights beginning Christmas Eve.

We had an early flight from Bangkok to Trang, so we spent the night in the city, got up at the crack of dawn and had breakfast at the airport.

A van took us from Trang airport to Hat Yao pier. This lady joined us half way through the journey. She sells chicken burgers to tourists at the pier. They were very good.

We waited quite a time at Hat Yao.

Mangrove swamp on the left. Ladies fishing from the pier in the foreground.

The Tiger Line express ferry plies the Andaman coast from Koh Lipe to Phuket.

The Andaman Sea is quite lovely.

It was quite a nice cruise.

We stayed at the Narima Bungalow Resort on Koh Lanta. They had a gala Christmas Eve party on the beach.

Just north of Narima is this lovely beach, Hat Nui.

On that day, it was only us and the boats.

Beach at Klong Nin, Narima Bungalow. Ours is on the ridge to the left of the coconut tree.

The resort has many nice pools.

One day we took a taxi over to Old Town Lanta. It is very nice with lots of interesting old wooden buildings.

Here some rubber sheets dry on a pier in Old Town Lanta. Koh Lanta has many rubber tree plantations.

We had a nice time in Old Town.

Moored right outside the Old Town restaurant where we had lunch was this small squid boat. They fish for squid at night. The lights attract the squid.

The next day we went to Koh Haa for diving and snorkeling. This is a Mantis shrimp. Conditions were not great. Visibility was only fair and the surface too rough for easy snorkeling.

A puffer fish. Maybe a star puffer

Soft coral.

The yellow twig is actually a Ghost Pipefish.

Some shrimp.

A nasty looking Barracuda. He was about a meter (one yard) long.

The ScubaFish dive boat.

The next day we went to Koh Rok for some snorkeling. Conditions were much better with very calm seas and extraordinarily clear water.

Mam behind the mask.

A giant clam. About 30cm (12 inches) across. 

The island is full of these very long (two meters or six feet) monitor lizards. They appear at lunch time looking for handouts.

A happy snorkeler.

Such nice powdery sand and clear water. In the distance you can see several squid boats lashed together.

The last sunset.

Such nice meals at Narima.

A final relaxing day on the beach.

Our return flight was delayed, so we took some time to explore Trang city.

Lots of interesting old buildings.

A nice holiday display. Note the interesting tuktuk (three wheeled taxi).

Typical old-style Chinese restaurant.

We got to Bangkok quite late, so spent the night again and returned to Korat, by bus, the following day.