Have you ever heard of Natai beach? Imagine a stretch of white sands ten kilometres long that’s completely free of vendors and beach umbrellas. There are no big hotels, tailor shops or sleazy bars in the area, and absolutely no buzzing jet skis or speedboats.
Where is this magical place? Natai Beach in Phang Nga province just over the bridge from Phuket. With its sands blissfully free of vendors and sunbed rentals, to spend a day at the beach is to be immersed in a Natai nature nirvana soothed by the sound of the waves.
The balmy turquoise waters are ideal for swimming, surfing, stand-up paddling or kayaking. A bit like the Hamptons of Southeast Asia, with strict local building laws have shielded Natai Beach from all mass development. Instead of mega resorts and shopping malls, the beach is lined with a handful of boutique resorts, private villas and high-end restaurants.
Except one, Raipiang seafood restaurant, which does cater to more normal budgets and offered delicious seafood. Sitting here watching for a sunset dinner, not as spectacular as it could have been, but oh so lovely all the same.
During my December break in 2021, I was in Phang Nga on my road trip around the province.
I had seen there was this huge beautiful Limestone park and wanted to visit it. About mid morning was actually a good time to go and visit, still cool enough , but also busy enough. I say busy, but actually most of the visitors were locals doing their morning exercise and jogging.
As we walked around the main pathway through the park, it became apparent why the locals stayed within the main pathway. There, are we found out for ourselves, in due course, two very large troupes of Macaque monkeys. With the lack of tourists and people they have made larger areas of the park their home.
We did narrowly avoid a major skirmish between the two alpha males and their harems. Along with about 20 offspring. Nearly finding ourselves with our backs up against the locked railings at the other end of the park we stayed absolutely still and made no sudden movements or noise that might attract their attention.
Thankfully they all ran like a river of water towards the limestone cliffs and disappeared into the trees. We carefully made our way back , keeping to the main paths.
I did manage before that to get some interesting views of the cliffs, and the surrounding area, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
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Title: Anomalous Hedges by The Mini Vandals
A collection of images from my visit to this strange and surreal Wat, very similar to the one in Korat I visited, Wat Pa Lak Roi, which was my first introduction to Buddhist Hell Gardens.
The images leave nothing to the imagination.
Wat Tham Ta Pan in Phang Nga Town is one of the weirdest original temples in southern Thailand. Located around 100 km northeast of Phuket, the site offers a journey through Buddhist Heaven and Hell.
At first sight, the temple looks a bit abandoned and decrepit, which simply adds to the eeriness of the place. You’ll see a fountain at the entrance, where there are 5 sculptures of monks. Each holds a bowl that represents wealth, beauty, happiness, cleverness, and health. Try throwing a coin in the bowl of your choice. If you succeed in landing one in, your wish will come true.
Right next to a small shop, there’s a huge Chinese dragon with a wide-open mouth waiting for you to enter. This is the beginning of your ‘journey’ through representations of Buddhist Heaven and Hell. The inside of the dragon has a long and dark tunnel, with just a few tiny windows lighting your path.
At the end of the tunnel, you’ll find the entrance to a deep cave. Pray at the small shrine on your left before heading towards the Nirvana section, right at the end of the cave. It takes about a 10-minute walk along a dark track with bridges crossing a river to reach the end, which has 2 Buddha statues symbolising Heaven.
Buddhist Hell (‘Naraka’ in Sanskrit and ‘Na Rok’ in Thai) awaits you if you do not follow the 5 precepts of Buddhism during your life:
Abstain from taking life (thou shall not kill).
Abstain from taking what is not given (thou shall not steal).
Abstain from sexual misconduct (thou shall not commit adultery).
Abstain from false speech (thou shall not lie).
Abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness (eschew drunkenness).
A visit to Wat Tham Ta Pan can be a really scary experience, so it isn’t recommended for young children. Scenes showing torture applied to sinners are vivid and straightforward, leaving no space to the imagination.
An area behind these buildings offers a walk up a cliff through a garden dotted with statues of animals. The cliff displays sculptures and representations of Indian deities, such as Ganesh and Akhilandeshvari.
Wat Tham Ta Pan is a one-of-a-kind temple that’s well worth a visit, simply due to its weird originality.
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A great stop off on my road trip in December 2021, when the waters were quite low.
In Thailand, however, every little trickling stream seems to be advertised as this or that “waterfall”, and more than once I’ve hiked several kilometres only to find something less impressive than a fountain you might find in front a three-star hotel. At Manora waterfall just north of Phang Nga town, however, you’ll be rewarded by something justly worthwhile.
The multiple layers and refreshing natural pools of Manora are just a short motorbike ride away from Phang Nga town. Upon entering the trail visitors are greeted by a pristine swimming hole with cool, clear water that flows straight from nearby mountain tops. This is where Phang Nga comes to cool off, and if you’ve had it with Thailand’s tropical heat, it’s a welcome sight indeed. Just beyond the swimming hole visitors will find a wide and relatively deep stream bridged by a fallen tree. If it weren’t for the hundreds of small fish that thrive here, this stream would also be a good spot for swimming. At least it makes for a nice photo. A little further up the path from the fish stream the first of Manora’s waterfalls comes into view. With less of a roar than those further up, this is a tranquil little spot to enjoy the entrancing sound of water gushing over rocks.
After passing another shallow swimming hole along the path, where you can swing like Tarzan on a vine over the water, Manora’s larger and more dramatic falls are found. Okay, so they’re not Niagara or Angel falls, but Manora is impressive, especially considering that six different sets of falls of different shapes and sizes thunder alongside a winding path of several hundred metres draped in lush jungle canopy.
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During the summer break and trying to dodge tropical storms, On my way home from Krabi we stopped at this much missed, but beautiful calm place . A real gem and worth the visit. We had the place to ourselves and felt like explorers! Lovely being able to take your time and look at all the paintings without feeling rushed or watched. So here is a record of what I saw, I hope you like it?
It’s in Tambon Tham Nam Phut, Muang District, Phang Nga province
This cave is the lime stone cave.
The paintings are all at the front of Tham Sam cave, a wide open space that’s essentially a large overhang. From this, a long, but not very large shaft cut by flowing water leads back into the limestone outcrop.
According to the sign at the entrance of the cave, it is mentioned that this cave has presented the art in early Rattanakosin era during B.E 2394 – 2453.
It is said that the painting of birds and flowers are represented as the heaven. Next is the Earth where man lives, lastly, is a guess it is hell, with monsters and ghouls.
Made with natural pigments – probably derived from tree sap. These consist entirely of red, white, and black and the lively results from the limited palate are a testament to the great skill of the artist or artists.
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Title ;Night Snow by Asher Fulero
There are a lot of Buddhist temples in Thailand and there are a few unique and interesting ones – the Wat Bang Kung วัดบางกุ้ง is one of them. It is actually a temple built within a huge banyan tree! Wat Bang Kung is located in Amphawa district, Samut Songkhram.
Within the Wat entwined tree, there is a large Buddha statue pasted with gold leaves by devout visitors who will walk around the Buddha It appears that a concrete structure had been built within the tree to house the temple.
Within the grounds from Wat Bang Kung lies the memorial to Bang Kung Camp, once a strategic naval outpost. Back in 1767, after the defeat of old Siam capital of Ayutthaya by Burmese forces, general Taksin took his navy down to this area after Burmese ships blocked the route to the gulf. It was from here that Taksin led his troops to take back Ayutthaya from the Burmese and eventually becoming King of Siam.
Besides statues of soldiers dressed in 18th century military wear, there are dozens of life-size statues of Muay Thai kick-boxers displaying different Muay Thai moves, which were added in the late 20th century.