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Village Overview, April 2015. “Wow!” was pretty much all I could say as I gazed out across the Thai town of Sangkhlaburi for the first time. It was a sticky, overcast afternoon and I’d not long finished checking into my cabin at P. Guesthouse, with its phenomenal views over the Khao Laem Reservoir. Located in northwest Thailand, a mere 24 kilometres from the border of Myanmar, Sangkhlaburi is an enchanting backwater locale of mystical ruins, enchanting temples and off the beaten track nature trails. The perfect place to kick back, gather one’s thoughts and surmise that sometimes, life can be f****ing amazing!
Saphan Mon Bridge, April 2015. Although there are plenty of fascinating sights peppered around Sangkhlaburi, nothing can compete with the majestic form of Saphan Mon Bridge, the world’s longest handmade bridge at four hundred meters. I must have spent a solid hour on it, stopping here and there to enjoy the views and discreetly photograph the locals. Three quarters of the way down I came across some children daring each other to jump into the water. It was a hell of a plunge; and a challenge I’m sure I wouldn’t have accepted!
Saphan Mon Bridge, April 2015. A couple of days into my Sangkhlaburi stay and I woke up one morning to see the bridge buzzing with activity! Rushing over from my guesthouse, I discovered a large gathering of excited locals celebrating the 60th birthday of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Waving Thai flags and dressed in uniform purple (the princess was born on a Saturday and purple is apparently the official color of Saturday!), the atmosphere was so joyous it was infectious! With local soldiers holding up an official portrait of the beloved princess, there was marching, singing, drumming and a rambling speech by a crusty old dignitary. Despite the fact that I barely understood half of what was going on, it was a special experience and one that will stay with me.
Wat Wang Wiwekaram Chedi, April 2015. Another unforgettable experience came with a private boat cruise around the area. The bony old captain I went with spoke not a word of English, so everything was arranged through his savvy grandson, who proved to be quite the negotiator. Setting off just after dawn, the lake was so indescribably atmospheric and beautiful the whole thing felt positively dreamlike. Bobbing along the misty dark green water, we passed the astonishing sight of a sunken temple, while in the distance sat the glimmering form Wat Wang Wiwekaram Chedi. Later on I managed to go and visit this corncob structure, which turned out to be part of Sangkhlaburi’s most important temple complex.
Wat Sam Prasop Temple, April 2015. The captain made a couple of stops along the route, which allowed me to jump off and explore some ruined temples. This one, with its crumbling stone archway and hulking Buddha shrine, was probably the pick of the bunch. The temple sits at the side of some open farmland and indeed Mr. Farmer himself was out digging while a young girl, presumably his daughter, walked up and down the allotment picking vegetables and throwing them into a wooden bucket. Watching them both go about their chores, it really was impossible to feel any further away from home.