This is my fourth trip to Bangkok and I thought I had already seen everything. Was I wrong!
My guide and I zoomed off into the countryside yesterday morning. As soon as the city disappeared behind us we stopped at a roadside stand for a platter of grilled prawns fresh from a nearby shrimp farm. Yum! Then we were off to Suphanburi Province, part of Thailand's vast rice belt. The vivid green paddies stretch as far as you can see. Soon, we stopped to see a monastery, then a Chinese temple that is so elaborately decorated it made me dizzy. Our lunch break was at a rambling 100+ year old local market that is full of lovely old wooden buildings, ancient shops and delicious smells. I bought some yummy traditional sweets to take home, but I know they won't last that long.
Afterwards, we drove deeper into the scenic countryside to see Thailand's largest reclining Buddha, which is out in the middle of nowhere, as if it had been dropped there by mistake! Not far down the road was the biggest treat of the day. As we turned into a huge temple complex we found ourselves in a field surrounded by thousands of Buddha statues. The biggest one, still far in the distance, must be 60 or 70 meters tall. My guide explained that all of this was built by a very rich man who wanted to leave a spiritual legacy, and that this was his idea of what heaven must be like. Then he pointed to hell, directly across the road.
The "Hell Garden" here is really bizarre. It is home to hundreds of life-sized sized statues of people suffering eternal punishment for sins and bad behavior. Most of them are naked and are being stabbed, chopped, bitten, or impaled by monsters and ghouls. While it all seems strangely amusing to us, the local country folk take it very, very seriously.
Why not join me next year on trip #5? Yesterday I saw part of the Thailand I had always imagined but never found in the big cities. I know you would love it and the guys at Purple Dragon do a superb job of taking care of me.
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