Thursday, July 27, 2006


Surin is in the North East of Thailand, close to the border with Cambodia. We spent a couple of nice days here following the wedding. I doubt many people do more than use it as a stopping point on the way to or from Cambodia, or visit for the annual Elephant fair. I've quite enjoyed myself here though.

Our first full day was a bit of a washout, with almost constant rain from noon onwards. We managed to get some Internet chores done, e-mails, diary entries, etc and spent the rest of the day reading. This is something that I'd promised myself I'd try and do on this holiday, spend whole days just relaxing with a book. In the evening Patrick came back to the hotel so we ate with him and went for a drink at a bar down the street, the Hip Hop, which somewhat unsurprisingly was playing Hip Hop. Somehow it got to be 01:30, so we went back to the hotel and to bed.

The second day, Patrick and Noi, Pat's parents and Noi's brother took us to Prasat Hin Phanom Rung. Phanom Rung is the ruined complex of a Khmer temple, dating from the Angkor period (11th century). It's built of quite pink stones, the name of which escape me. It's in reasonable nick having been restored quite well and is rather impressive. I was quite taken with some of the bas reliefs, showing scenes from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. It's worth a visit if you are in this region as it is apparently the best preserved example of Khmer temples in Thailand.

In the evening Gemma and I went out for a couple of beers and some food. We had trouble finding a place with veggie options, although we are able to ask for it in Thai now. I ate a plate of noodles while Gemma had to put up with crisps and biscuits back at the hotel!

We had been planning to go to Cambodia from Surin. Noi and her family were aghast at the idea of us travelling overland to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. The road is bad from the border and notorious for banditry. They were adamant that we shouldn't go and so we decided to respect their wishes as they'd been so nice to us. Another influencing factor was the fact that from the Cambodian side of the border it is a 7 hour ride in the back of a pick up over extremely bad roads to get to Siem Reap. I value my buttocks too much for such a ride, so we decided that we may just take a cheap flight from Bangkok direct to Siem Reap.

We spent our final day in Surin chilling out and just wandering about the town and the market. I was so happy in Surin that my face had been split by a constant grin. Everyone was smiling and laughing at us in, what I'd like to think, was an affectionate way. The laughter could have been because I kept walking into bits of the market stalls. They aren't really built for people of my height. People were bringing their kids out onto the streets to look at the farangs. I thought I'd find it slightly disturbing, but it was totally good natured and I quite enjoyed it. Surin, in contrast to Bangkok or the tourist centres is somewhere I felt completely safe. Always in the back of the mind in the other places was a thought, 'Beware of pickpockets, watch out for scams, etc, keep your money seperated around your person'. None of that even touched my thoughts in Surin.

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