Friday, 22 June 2007

A hidden gem

Since Random Magus enjoys my travel stories, I shall make an effort to unearth some of my photos and spin some travel tales.

The bus journey from Bangkok took us 5 hours! We alighted at the small dusty town of Khorat, relieved to be on our feet again. In this little village town off the beaten track, no one speaks English, except for Jimmy. We sat waiting for him to appear, wondering what our host look like.

Well, he had no trouble spotting us, the two backpackers wearing hiking boots. We tossed our bags behind his utility truck and climbed on board. We found out Jimmy’s a Welsh who came, fell in love with a rural Isan girl (Lamai) and decided to stay behind and set up Lamai Homestay - a really comfortable bungalow.

The next few days were spent experiencing life in a rural Thai rice village. We learned how the villagers weave silk and baskets for a living, saw the excavations at Ban Prasat which reveals a 3000 year old agricultural/ceramic culture... but the highlight of our trip was the visit to Phimai.

Now, everyone has heard of the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but not many know about Prasat Phimai, one of the most important Khmer temples of Thailand.

Located in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, this impressive Mahayana Buddhist temple marks one end of the Ancient Khmer Highway from Angkor. As the enclosed area is comparable with that of Angkor Wat, Phimai must have been an important city in the Khmer empire. Unlike many temples in Thailand, which face the east, Phimai faces southeast in the direction of Angkor, the capital of the Khmer empire.
Simply awe-inspiring! Let the pictures take your breath away!
Since it is a Hindu sanctuary, the reliefs at Prasat Hin Phimai depict the Ramayana, the story of Vishnu who took on the manifestation of Rama, in order to defeat the enemy of the Dhamma.
An elevated, stone-made road leads from here to the central temple, which is shaped like the central temple in Angkor Wat but much smaller, without the richness of the original and without sculpted walls. The main construction period was in the 11th and 12th centuries, but there were additions in the 13th one, the evidence based on the inscriptions found on the carved stones of the temples.
Some of lintels in stunning beauty after restoration. (it's the little one on the right)
With Jimmy, the owner of Lamai Homestay.
Close to the Phimai city center is a single, giant banyan tree that looks like a giant forest. Believed to be a holy tree, residents adorn it with colourful garlands.
About to release tiny turtles into the banyan tree pond. All the roots surrounding me belong to the same tree. It's massive!

3 comments:

Random Magus said...

wow.. thank you for sharing. Your descriptions coupled with the fabulous picture make an awesome combination. Needless to say I LOVE reading about your travels. You are one lucky lady!!!!

David said...

Wow! That banyan tree pond is incredible. Sounds/looks like you're having a great time and seeing some beautiful places. Enjoy! :)

Blur Ting said...

Glad you enjoyed it Random.

Yup David. It's huge! The roots spread everywhere to creat a forest. You've got to be there to believe it.