Experience Phang Nga Town

The end to a long adventure always comes too quickly. One minute you tend to be morose about home sickness and how much time is left and the next thing you know you’re digging your heals in the sand. That’s exactly how we felt as we left Rawai and headed to experience Phang Nga Town for one last chance to take in some new territory before returning to BKK.

Phang Nga Town is not a typical tourist destination. It is the capital of Phang Nga Province positioned in the shadows of the surrounding limestone karst cliffs and mountains. While it is not a seaside town, Phang Nga Bay and the transportation for many island and sea cave day trips are near by. The real reason to make this an overnight (or if time allows a few nights) stay is to simply experience local everyday Thai lifestyle.

There are a few tourist attractions within close distance of the small town of about 10,000 people. We took a ride around, both in the afternoon when we arrived from Rawai and in the morning before heading back to retrieve our bags and have a couple night stay back at The Arawan Resort before our return flight out of Krabi International to Bangkok for a week long stay for the wedding festivities of my husband’s cousin to his Thai bride.

We stayed at a newly constructed two story small hotel and restaurant spot not far off the main road in the city limits. Hink Poshtel was clean and decorated in a very simplistic style. Floors were stained cement and the walls were block. We were provided bottled water and a refrigerator, the bed was comfortable and the shower hot with great water pressure. The neighborhood was filled with young roosters eager to show off their newly found cock a doodle doo’s. There was a front patio by the breakfast/lunch diner and a rooftop patio that offered nice views of the clean, well kept surrounding farm style properties.

Before dinner on our one night stay in Phang Nga Town we visited the beautiful city park, Somdech Phra Sinagrarinda, where the entrance and exit roads are naturally bracketed by the stalactites hanging within the caved area. There is a lake with running tracks and plenty of monkeys who make the shade of the caves their home.

Driving along the edge of town and crossing a bridge over the river we discovered Tham Sam Rock Art. This sedate spot of historic beauty captured our curiosity until the sun set over the small fishing pond adjoining the cave entrance.

Hearing music drift up from the river side we saw that a market was coming to life. We decided to take in the sites, sounds and smells of the Saturday night event the locals were gathering for in large numbers. The stalls were set along a dirt path adjacent to the river and the kids were playing on the sand bars while adults lounged on the rocked amphitheater style seats built into the river bank. We listened to the music for awhile and enjoyed some fresh fried spicy chicken wings while we people watched amongst the locals in this small community. Many made it a point to greet us and giggled and laughed at our Sawasdee. We only saw one other white person during our stay in this village.

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Wats aplenty are found in all villages, towns and cities across Thailand but Wat Tham Ta Pan here in Phang Gna Town is the first of this kind we have visited. Our morning adventure before the highway ride back to Krabi left us a little in shock. I had read about the temple and knew I wanted to check it out. At entry the temple seems similar to many. It included many statues representing good and achievement. I climbed the rugged staircase to the top of the tower where the monks go for solitude and saw the beauty that surrounded in the representation of good. We followed the path as we were pointed by eerie statues. This “hell temple” is meant to be shocking, to stir the visitor to pursue the direction of good not evil. To view this depiction of hell you enter through the mouth of the dragon built into the hillside. Peep holes are drilled all along the way that give you a small view of what awaits in hell should you not live up to the expectations of ethics in Buddhist teachings. As you exit the dragons tail you are at the entrance to a cave where statues of deities sit representing heaven. Should you follow the path outside the cave it leads you to the full blown representations of hell. The portrayal of the scenes of the end of days was quite revolting.

The mix of morbidity, strange creatures and aliens in the skirts of the revered dragon, Naga and other Buddhist deities left much for us to mull over as we rode the next couple hours.

After a short stay at Arawan Resort in Krabi to return our motorbike and retrieve our luggage we were off to Bangkok to experience the traditions of a Thai wedding. Watch for a post soon with my interpretation of the festivities! #cometravelwithme


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