Steve and Jemjahn go to Thailand, 2003
We’ve all seen photos of the magnificent palace complex at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Phimai (pronounced p-my) , just an hour from Jem’s village, is similar. Not as impressive, of course, but well worth a day’s trip. They are the remaining ruins of an empire of the 12th century, now surrounded by a modern city. Stepping into the ruins from a city street is like stepping back in time.
The Thai government has done a wonderful job restoring the ruins, not to make a Disney-like park, but to repair and replace missing pieces of walls, walkway, and statuary.
The hours we were there, I didn’t see more than a dozen tourists. About half were from Germany (escorted by a young Thai man who spoke fluent German; now there’s a story, I’ll bet) and half from Japan. I don’t remember any children.
With so few distractions, often able to walk alone among the ruins, it was easy to lose myself back in time. The grounds were peaceful, just as they might have been 800 years ago.
For more on Phimai: http://www.thaitravel.info/Phimai/
The best time to visit, I’d think, would be in December, as we did, for the cool climate.
Jem later told me the villagers liked me. Among other reasons was that I didn’t insist on going to nightclubs in Korat (not my idea of fun) or to resort cities like Chiang Mai (another tourist trap). I really should have been more adventurous, gotten around more, but Phimai and exploring the village area was all I needed.
Other things they liked, Jem said, was that I ate their village food, was friendly (“you didn’t act snobbish”), and walked everywhere.
They’d said about me, she reported, chohb dern (likes to walk) and rooey deh dern (he’s rich, yet he walks).
What can I say, walking is great. It allows for closer or lengthy observations and a chance to meet or talk with friends and strangers. Not to mention the health benefits. Why it’s not more popular is another of those mysteries of life.
next: Back to Bangkok