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Backroads of Isaan

First published 5 June 2020

We spent a half day on local backroads with friends from Australia. Our plans included visiting two wats that I have covered here before and along the way we came across a couple of other finds that will be included in my list of "things to do with visitors". A perfect day to take some photos of the moments of quite spectacular scenery hidden away off the main roads.

I'm not going to include specific location details as the vast majority of you wouldn't be interested but if there are any locals who want to know please get in touch and I will give you GPS coords.

Sugar cane backed by low but rugged outcrops.

An interesting looking road leading into the hills with a wat at the end proved too tempting to pass. Most disappoint but sometimes you find a gem.

Not quite a gem but a clean temple in the Thai forest wat tradition, which means they are set in trees and constructed mostly from timber.

Simplicity and open structures are always the main theme.

However the big bonus here was a super friendly and well look after dog who was so delighted to see us. Most dogs in Isaan are mangy and dirty but this temple version was the total opposite.

When we left he wanted to get in the truck with us! Probably had enough of temple life and wanted to see the bright lights. The monk made an appearance but he was far less friendly than the dog!

I have no idea what this temple is called officially, as it isn't on Google Maps, but the "Dog Wat" will be on the list for future road trips.

After passing through some hills and valleys the road opened out to this. Not too shabby.

Another side trip took us to an unremarkable wat but I liked this shot of wild grasses on the edge of the temple pond.

In June (last year!) we visited this wat and I took a photo of this construction.

Well nothing's changed on the building side but if you want to risk the stairs it does provide a good view over the completed part of this complex. Who knows why it is here and on both occasions we have been here is has been almost deserted of monk or anyone else.

Wild bamboo growing at the back of that uncompleted structure.

The centre court and this is as busy as it gets! Gaun checking her photos under a tree. Poor Gaun. I rush around taking photos wherever I go and she patiently waits for me to reappear. For Thais if you aren't taking a selfie or a photo with friends/family in it you are totally wasting your time.

Another second visit temple. This looks like just as outcrop of rock in fields but if you climb to the top you get great views of the surrounding countryside.

There are also some terrific caves hidden away behind that large blue door but the monk was away today and we couldn't get in. I have his phone number now!

At the top of those steps was this bike. Extreme mountain bike riding?

Gaun and sugar cane.

Dad likes to get his sugar crop harvested well before the rest of the family

Driving back one of my friends spotted a large Buddha statue on a hill and with a bit of detective work we found the super steep, narrow dirt road that led to the top. Not recommended for small cars and definitely not in the wet season when you'd need a 4 wheel drive to get there. The alternative option is to leave the car at the bottom and walk these steps! Good luck with that. This photo taken halfway up.

And here's the reason you might want to make the trip.

I love these characterful hills and of course we aren't fully into the dry season so there is still a lot of greenery around.

The big Buddha at the top. He has just had his "opening" ceremony so is brand new.

From where we live you have no idea that this sort of landscape is 30 minutes away.

Last one.

Back on the farm at the end of the day Gaun was teasing Peng who was helping to pick celery for Yuan and Lud. Tomorrow is their (and Gaun's) last 2:00 am start for New Year. They can wind down a bit as everyone heads back to work and the food markets return to normal.

Yuan had an order for 50 kilos of celery. Left to Peng this order would have been filled just in time for New Year 2018 The spirit was willing though. Thanks Peng.

I took this one just because I liked the combination of farmhouse and sky. A great day to finish up 2017. More to come next year. Thanks for reading.



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