Tag - waterways

Battambang, Cambodia

Battambang, Cambodia
Battambang, Cambodia
Battambang, Cambodia
Battambang, Cambodia

The second largest city in Cambodia, Battambang makes the idea base to explore the surrounding attractions. Situated to the northwest of Cambodia, Battambang is full of interesting buildings left over from the French colonial era and has a pleasantly relaxed feeling that entices many travellers to extend their stay for a day or two.

Battambang takes its name from the legend of an ancient Khmer king, who is said to have calmed the city’s rebellions with his battambang staff. As you wander through the city streets you will see a statue representing this event as well as a number of interesting statues depicting mythical animals and religious characters.

There is plenty to see and do in Battambang. Start by climbing the hill of Phnom Sampeu to enjoy spectacular views of the city and explore the hill’s caves, stupas and monastery. Near the hill is Wat Banan, which is dubbed a mini Angkor Wat and contains a large Buddhist shrine. Just to the west of the city, Wat Ek Phnom has also been constructed in Angkorian style, while Wat Baydamran is home to hundreds of fruit bats.

Situated 70 kilometers north of the city of Battambang in northeastern Cambodia, Bantaey Chhmar is a pretty temple complex built by Jayavarman VII as a tribute to the death of his son Indravarman and four generals in battle. Dating back to the 9th century, this is a great place to explore on a day trip. A mighty battle took place on this site in 1177 when it was invaded by the Cham people. Those interested in the areas unusual history can find the story engraved on the stone ways that surround Bantaey Chhmar. The complex has been overgrown by forest, giving it a mystical quality and it features large Avalokiteshvara faces which are reminiscent of the Bayon temple near Siem Reap.

Head out of Battambang to discover the ancient wooden houses of Watkor, which is a very pretty village. Other nearby villages worth exploring include Kompong Seyma, and Ksach Puoy. These villages offer a real insight into traditional Khmer life and you will still find people engrossed in skills such as weaving and basket making.

An interesting way to explore this area is by riding the bamboo train known as the norry. The Wat Poveal Museums is a good place to learn more about the Khmer arts, while just 44 kilometres from the city is Pich Chenda, a very pretty nature and wildlife preserve.

Walk along the bank of the Sangker River in the evening and you will discover a large number of small food stalls selling traditional Khmer food and also delicious French bread. This is a great place to get a cheap meal and perhaps wash it down with a beer or two.

A great way to travel to Battambang is by boat from Siem Reap. This scenic journey takes you slowly through the countryside, past floating villages and fishermen along narrow canals and waterways.

Ratchaburi, Thailand

Ratchaburi, Thailand
Ratchaburi, Thailand
Ratchaburi, Thailand
Ratchaburi, Thailand

Ratchaburi, is located on the banks of the mighty Mae Klong River, just 80 kilometres west of Bangkok. The province is full of areas of natural beauty and historical sites. Surrounded by stunning scenery such as the smoky Tanao Si Mountains, paddy fields and waterways, a great way to see the area is to hire a bicycle and explore.

One of the main attractions in this area is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Visitors flock to this market to discover Thailand’s unique traditional way of trading. Although today the market is dominated by souvenir stands, you can still take a boat trip through the market and barter for exotic fruit.

Ratchaburi Province contains some stunning natural caves for you to explore. Just 8 kilometres from the town you will find the famous Tham Ruesi Khao Ngu, whilst Tham Khao Bin is said to be the most beautiful. 30 kilometres west of the town you will find Tham Chomphon, whilst the mountain top of Khao Chong Phran offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

There are many interesting temples in the area such as Wat Muang, Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Wat Khongkharam and Wat Khanon, which contains an interesting collection of more than 300 traditional Nang Yai puppets.

The area is well known for its abundant history, and a good place to discover more about it is at the Ratchaburi National Museum, whilst the Bo Khlueng Hot Spring is a great place to soak away your aches and pains after a busy day of exploring.

History enthusiasts would do well to visit the Ban Khu Bua Ancient City, which displays many of the archaeological discoveries of the area. The Siam Cultural Park is also interesting as it contains fibre glass wax images of important people such as Mother Teresa, President Deng Xiaoping and Chairman Mao Tse-tung. This display has to be seen to be believed as it is certainly unique.

The province hosts some interesting fairs and festivals and it is worth trying to time your trip to coincide with one of them.

The Ratchaburi Tourism Fair is held annually during February-March in the grounds of the City Hall. Featured activities include demonstrations of famous handicrafts, such as jar making and “Sin Tin Chok” cloth weaving, folk art and cultural performances by local tribal groups.

The Sweet Grape and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Week Fair happens around March-April each year to introduce agricultural produce to the market. This is a good opportunity for visitors to buy agricultural produce such as coconuts, pomelos grapes and lichis at discounted prices.

The Khao Ho or ‘Ang Mi Thong’ Festival is a Su Khwan blessing ceremony for happiness and longevity in life, held around the ninth lunar month. Karen people believe that the ninth lunar month is a bad time of the year, when ghosts and evil spirits hunt and eat the “Khwan” ‘spirit’ of people. During the festivals many traditional methods are practiced to ward off the evil spirits. The elders of each family tie red threads on the children’s wrists and give a blessing for good luck.

The River of Kings

Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, ThailandAt one time the very life blood of Bangkok, the majestic Chao Phraya River and all the various canals and waterways gave rise to the city’s former worldwide reputation as being “The Venice of the East”. Since the founding of Siam’s new capital in 1782 by King Rama I, to the people of Bangkok the Chao Phraya River has been a source of protection, trade, food, fun and worship. Although many of the riverside’s traditional Thai wooden houses have been replaced by modern skyscrapers and hotels, to all Thai people the Chao Phraya River will forever be the river of life.

Either on it or by it, a little of the city’s very own CPR will breathe fresh life into party weary limbs and provide a chilled out journey into history, so for those of you whom are up for a day of messing about on the water, here are a few highlights of river life to check out while cruising down the heart of Bangkok.

Zone A

Located in the north, the tiny island of Koh Kret is where Bangkok’s Mon community settled during the reign of King Tak-Sin. Sights to see are Wat Paramaiyikawas (Temple), Wat Chimplee (Temple), Wat Klong Kret (Temple), The Ceramics Centre, and Khanom Wan Canal (Dessert Canal).

Zone B

Beginning at the Wat Chalemphrakiat Worawihan, heading south along the river other sights to see are Nonthaburi Provincial Government House, Wat Khemapirataram (Temple), The Rama VI Bridge, Wat Rachathiwas Worawihan (Temple), Bang Khunphrom Palace, and the Phra Sumen Fortress. 

Zone C

A short journey west along Bangkok Noi Canal sights to see are the Royal Barge Museum, Wat Suwannaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Baan-bu Village, Thonburi Railway Station, and Wat Srisudaram Worawihan (Temple).

Zone D

Continuing south along the main river visitors will see Ratcha Woradit Pier and Rachakij Winijchai Throne, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Wat Kallayanamitr Woramahawihan (Temple), Santa Cruz Church (Catholic), Phra Buddhayodfah Bridge, and Sullaka Sathon (Former Taxation House).

Zone E

Located south west of the main river along Sanam Chai Canal you can see Wat Nang-Nong Worawihan (Temple), Wat Raja Orasaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Wat Sai, (Temple), Wat Nang Shee Shotikoram (Temple of Nuns), and Wat Nang Ratchaworawihan (Nang Temple).

Zone F

A short journey south west of the main river along Bangkok Yai Canal visitors will see Wat Hong Rattanaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Wat Moliokkayaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Wat Intaram Worawihan, Charoen Mosque, and The Old Palace. 

So, whether you decide on one of the leisurely evening dinner cruises, or purchase a day river pass entitling you to unlimited travel between Nonthaburi in the north (Zone A) to Thonburi in the south (Zone F), or even would simply like to travel to one of Thailand’s former capitals, Ayutthaya, by boat, a visitor’s trip to the Kingdom would not be complete without a journey along “The River of Kings”. Enjoy.

And remember…

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