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

Friday, December 27, 2013

Another Christmas at Khao Yai

We decided to spend Christmas night in the vicinity of Khao Yai National Park. The area is developing rapidly and offers many interesting dining and shopping opportunities.

But, first, a little Christmas at home:

Miss Pim made this great 3D Christmas card. Water color and ink.


Khao Yai National Park is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from our home. The area outside the park to the north is full of commercial development including condominiums, resorts, restaurants, wineries and shopping centers.

Our first stop was at The Great Hornbill Grill at the PB Valley Khao Yai winery. The food is good and there are nice views of the mountains and vineyards.

For dessert we stopped at Terano, a nice little restaurant in the manner of a French Chalet. Note the lovely Vanda orchids

Nice views of the mountains from Terano.

And, yes, they had a white Christmas tree.

Provence Khao Yai is a new development which promoted itself this season with a "Proven├žal Flea Market". Not much to buy when we stopped in, but the hay display was amusing.

This is the main Christmas tree at The Greenery resort. We just stopped in here to have a look.

The Castle restaurant at the new Thames Valley resort. The restaurant has just opened. The resort will open early in 2014.

Guest rooms at Thames Valley resort: "...an English-style countryside hotel. Inspired by the charms of the green belt running west out of central London along the River Thames corridor...."

Thames Valley resort.

Finally, we check in to our room at the Balios Hotel.

Next to our hotel is the Palio shopping plaza.

Cafe Burgundy is a new place in Palio that features a nice selection of imported beers.

I had a Delirium Christmas beer from Belgium.



Fireplace room at the Balios hotel.

Balios hotel.

Christmas dinner at The Castle, Thames Valley resort.

Yes, that's Yorkshire Pudding.

Checking out of the Balios hotel.

Primo Piazza, another Italian-style shopping plaza. (This place was formerly known as Primo Posto. It has been enlarged, remodeled and renamed. It just recently reopened.)

Lovely view from the piazza tower.

Not much open here yet; just a few restaurants and a souvenir shop. 

Lovely day for cappuccino on the square.

The Grill House, yet another Italian themed venue. 

We finally made it to The Chocolate Factory. Nice Christmas display of their wares.

The Chocolate Factory

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Muang Sema and Ancient Korat

I cycled out to see the 1000+ year old mostly Khmer ruins at Muang Sema Historical Site and near the ancient city of Korat. These places are in the Sung Noen District of Nakhon Ratchasima province and are about 35K from my home.

Not much archaeology has been done at this ancient site. The presumption is that the original city of Sema (which is probably not the original name) was built by Mon speaking Buddhists and was part of the Dvaravati civilization which covered much of modern day Thailand and lasted from about the 6th century through the 13th century. By the 10th century the Khmer Empire started to move into northeast Thailand from what is present day Cambodia. The circular moats shown above were probably built by the original Mon speakers while the rectangular moat is probably Khmer. All of the monuments pictured below are Khmer.

This monument is located just outside the southeast corner of the rectangular moat.

It was built from fired clay brick.

Southwest corner of the rectangular moat.

Monuments Within the Small Circular Moat

12th century Khmer monument. There was a central structure and several outbuildings surrounded by a wall. Construction is sandstone and clay brick.

Sema Stones are leaf-shaped stones which mark the sacred boundary of a Buddhist Ordination Hall or Ubosot. The Sema Stones in the foreground indicate that the structure behind was built as an Ubosot.

Sema Stones in the lower left.

These women walked through the historic site. They told me they were hunting field crabs. I followed them into the jungle to this pond where they used loosely woven baskets to scoop crabs up from the bottom.

The structure behind the bicycle is an octagonal chedi (stupa) made entirely of brick.

Sema Stones indicate that this was built as an Ubosot.

Part of the circular moat, built well over a thousand years ago, still holds water.

Reclining Buddha at Wat Dharmacakra Semaram

This reclining Buddha image is on the grounds of Wat Dharmacakra Semaram, also known as Wat Phra Non. The image, made of many blocks of red sandstone, probably dates from the 8th century. It is possibly the oldest reclining Buddha image in Thailand.

It's hard to get a good photo of the entire Buddha image because the structure built to support it is rather confining.

The Dharmacakra stone (Wheel of Life) in the plastic case is the original from the 8th century. In front is a modern replica.

Lots and lots of hay….

Ancient Korat

Prasat Muang Khaek

A large Khmer style temple with a moat, colonnaded wall and two walled chedi.

One of the chedi.

Prasat Non Ku

10th century Khmer

Prasat Muang Kao

Prasat Muang Kao is one of about 120 way stations built by the Khmer between Angkor Wat and northeast Thailand in the 11th and 12th centuries. It's made of sandstone and laterite stone. It has a nice stone-lined pond.

Stone lined pond.

Reconstructed lotus blossom decoration which was probably on the roof of the structure.

The main structure is sandstone.

This separate building is made of laterite stone.

The Khmer never used true arches, instead they used the corbel arch as seen here.