Part 1: Thailand's Ancient Royal Route
Posted on August 01 2016
Most of the documented history behind the ornately carved Khmer temples of South East Asia are of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and its surrounding smaller temples. Angkor Wat, popular amongst tourists is a breathtaking complex which dates back to the 10th Century. Although most people visit Angkor Wat to see this fast structure, very few know that this was actually a culminating point of the Royal Road, constructed during that time to connect several temples of worship together. These temples span across Thailand and Cambodia. The starting point of the Royal Road is Phimai, in Nakorn Ratchasima Province, in the north east of Thailand and that’s where our exploration began.
Although the architecture was similar to what we found in Cambodia, many of the temples we stopped at along with Royal route, have since been abandoned and not cared for. One such Khmer temple was located literally at the border of Thailand and Cambodia. We felt completely isolated, but in an adventurous way. It was fantastic being the only ones there, well off the beaten path (how we love to travel!). We explored every corner of the this hidden beauty, some of which were well under quite a bit of vegetation. At one point, we decided it would be exciting to get right up to the border of Thailand and Cambodia (Ideally, i was hoping for one of those pictures with one foot in Thailand and the other in Cambodia). The border was literally demarcated only by a rope spanning two large rocks which held a tiny sign (written in Thai, of course, which didn't help up). I'm glad a large pile of rubble stopped us from getting to that border with sign, because, well, it turned out, as our driver pointed out, much later, that these signs were actually caution signs reading: “Beware of Land Mines”. Hmm. Visuals would have been helpful, don't you think? So...note to self: don't let stupidity get in the way of adventure! It's a very sad reminder of Thailand and Cambodia's past. So in some places, perhaps sticking to the main roads really aren't such a bad idea!
Well, we're happy to have survived and in the process captured some of the stunning architecture of these 1,000 year-old temples. We'd love to hear your stories if you've traveled to that part of the world!