Thursday, December 27, 2007

Khao Bin cave

Khao Bin (ถ้ำเขาบิน) is a cave in Ratchaburi Province. It is reached on highway 3087, which branches off from Phetkasem highway to the west near the town Ratchaburi.

The name Khao Bin means "Flying dove", which refers to the rock formation depicted to the right which with some fantasy resembles a flying dove. The cave has many stalactites, though some broken by stupid tourists, and also some parts of the cave roof darkened from the times before electric lights. But overall it is definitely a very beautiful cave.

In the centre of the cave is a small pond revered by the people, but sadly my camera lens was fogged over due to the high humidity in there, so I could not take a photo there.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Khu Bua

Khu Bua (คูบัว) is an ancient town dating back to the Dvaravati times of the 6th to 10th century. It was abandoned in the 10th century, and 4 centuries later the town Ratchaburi was founded nearby.

I used this town as an example in my main blog for the fact that the historical towns (Mueang) were relocated rather easily, with only the few stone-built structures left to decay more slowly. While actually Khu Bua and Ratchaburi were not a simple relocation, the main temple Wat Khlong illustrates beautifully what does remain of such a town after 1000 years.

The main ruins are along Thai highway 3338, the large parking lot cannot be missed. The easiest way to go is to follow highway 3339, which starts near the railway station in the center of Ratchaburi town. Right at the parking lot is also a small museum, which sadly was closed for renovations when I visited. From what I found on the web the artifacts found at Khu Bua are on display in that museum and the National Museum in Ratchaburi. I don't know if any other ruins are as clearly visible as this Wat Khlong, but actually there are a total of 44 sites within the area.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ratchaburi Cathedral

Cathedral as seen from Mae Klong riverThe Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral (อาสนวิหารแม่พระบังเกิด) is the principal church of the Roman Catholic diocese of Ratchaburi. It is located at the mouth of Khlong Damnoen Saduak to the Mae Klong river, in Bang Nok Khwaek of Samut Songkhram province. It is easily reached by driving highway 6006 from Ratchaburi to Samut Songkhram.

Around 1840 nine Chinese Catholic families moved to the rim of the Mae Klong river and started a flourishing community. In 1847 there were already 200 members, and the first church was built near the present location of the cathedral. The plot of land was bought by Father Marin and donated to the church. In 1890 the construction of the cathedral was begun by Father Paulo Salmon. On February 2, 1896 it was inaugurated. When the apostolic vicariate was elevated to a diocese in 1965, the church was chosen as the cathedral of the diocese.

Cathedral seen from the southThe church was built in French Gothic style, with the most notable item being its colored glass windows. They were originally imported from France, and show scenes of the life of Jesus in top row, as well as holy people (men to the north, women to the south) in a second row. Several of these windows broke during World War II, and it took till 1993 to have them all repaired. The following year a big renovation overlooked by Father Pradit was started, which finished in 1999.

State next to the CathedralWhile the church is a already a nice sight from the outside, luckily the parish priest noticed me strolling around his office, where I was reading the inscriptions on a stone listing the past bishops next to the statue of Father Paulo Salmon. He invited us to see the inside as well, and also told me a lot about the history of the church. Just too sad he did not have any booklet or brochure with these details, so the above is part from memory and part from the notes I took from a sign next to the church with these historical facts. The website of the diocese is in Thai only, so I cannot read it yet. And too bad I did not have my digital camera when I visited there, so I did not take as much photos as I would do now.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ban Tha Sathon hot spring

Hot spring signThe Ban Tha Sathon hot spring (บ่อน้ำร้อนบ้านท่าสะท้อน) is located in Tha Sathon subdistrict, in the southeast of Phunphin district, Surat Thani province. When coming from Tha Kham (Phunphin) town, one has to take Thai highway 401 to the west, and then the 4448 going south. Some kilometers after crossing the railway one has to turn into a narrow side road to the right, and after some more kilometers turn into another one to the left. Don't worry, it has signs at these two intersections. The compound itself then cannot be missed anymore, one will see the above sign and then directly hit the parking lot.

Bathing childrenAlready visible from the road is the big pond, which seem to be quite popular for Thai children to do bathing. The water seems to be very clean, the whitish color probably comes from the minerals from the spring. Next to the pool is a building with the sanitary facilities, and as usual in Thailand there are food stalls next to the parking lot as well. The whole compound looks very new, which is probably the reason why I haven't been able to notice it in either Google Earth nor PointAsia yet. We only visited that spring while we were on the way to Khao Sok, so we had neither bathing suit with us nor enough time to check out the swimming ourself.

The hot spring itselfThe pond is filled with water originating from the hot spring, which is encircled with a wooden walkway. Getting closer to the water there isn't recommendable, as it has a temperature of about 70° there. Quite odd to see even a little bit of steam on a sunny day with an air temperature of around 30°. Sadly my Thai is not good enough to get anything of the geological details of this spring from this website, but as there's no volcanism in that area the water must come from rather deep to get that hot.