When the Khmer empire was ruling Cambodia, their kingdom stretched far in to Thailand. The south-east corner of Thailand, close to the Cambodian border, was a part of the Khmer trading route. We visited 3 of sites in the area around the city of Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat).
Phimai – The small town of Phimai has a wat dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. It was built by the Khmers and looks more like the ruins in Angkor Wat, than those we saw earlier in Sukhothai. It has a long walkway leading to an impressive middle Prang. There is a separate building outside of the wat where the king would prepare for religious ceremonies.
To get to the next site was an event. First we took a public bus for 2 hours and then motorcycle taxis for 14 km. The road to the site is a steep. windy road. The motorcycle taxis don’t have helmets and, as with all motorcycles, they drive in which ever lane or shoulder they want. It was not the safest ride, but we made it in one piece.
Phanum Rung – This ruin is set on the top of an extinct volcano and is the best preserved Khmer ruin outside of Angkor Wat. It was built between the 11th and 13th centuries and is still in good condition. There’s a long, original stairway to reach to main temple.
The stairs around Thailand, whether old or new have steps of various heights and widths. Many times, the rise is very high, making it difficult even for us to climb, and we’re considerably taller than the locals. This staircase was no different. In addition to the varying heights, many of the steps were half the size of our foot so we had to go down sideways. The Temple inside was very picturesque with a large courtyard.
The carvings on the buildings include both Hindu and Buddhist deities and legends.
Prasat Muang Tam – Another 8 km motorcycle taxi ride down the road from Phanum Rung is the site Prasat Muang Tam. This wat is in a park with big trees and has a few nice ponds with Lotus flowers. It’s a small site, but really nice.
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