A day trip to what is known as Thailand’s Stonehenge, in Chaiyaphum Province 100 kilometres south-west of the Isaan capital, Khon Kaen.
Mo Hin Khao, to give its real name, is a collection of beautiful sandstone rocks, sculptured by Nature.
In pursuit of Khmer ancient ruins we stopped at Prasat Phra Yuen, only 22 kilometres from Khon Kaen.
Prasat Phra Yuen
This collection of Khmer era stones (it can hardly be called an ancient ruin) is located at the front of Phra Yuen School school where it has been subsumed by a contemporary Buddhist wat.
The five most distinctive rocks at Stonehenge are known as Sao Hin Ha Ton, and are up to 12 metres tall.
A second group of strange-shaped rocks known as Dong Hin, is located 500 metres away. Some of the shapes imagined are a chedi, a turtle shell and a boot.
The carpark at Stonehenge doesn’t disappoint – there is the obligatory sprinkling of vendors totally out of sync with the surroundings. But after visiting countless Thai attractions one realises that these pop up outlets selling coffee, food and merch ARE just as much a part of the real Thailand as the tourist destination they are supporting and being supported by.
The Phu Laenkha National Park is adjacent. Like the great majority of national parks in Thailand it has a racist, dual pricing policy for entry into an attraction that, for the most part, doesn’t stack up to the standards experienced in the home countries of the visitors who are being overcharged.
The only exculpatory factor in this overt racism is the equally plainly advertised dual pricing – an ‘up yours’, government-sanctioned attitude. Suck it up or spend your money elsewhere. In most cases the latter would be the better bet.
Many, if not most, of these fee extracting points are run by third party, private enterprise operations (read the signage fine print) that do not make clear what association they have with the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department (the government organisation that administers National Parks).
Wat Ku Kaew
We detoured from a direct route back to Khon Kaen to visit the little-publicised Wat Ku Kaew. It is only 12 kilometres south-west of the centre of Khon Kaen.
Like all other Khmer temples, Wat Ku Kaen is oriented to the east (49% are due east and remaining 51% between north-east and south-east)*.
The remains of Wat Ku Kaew have been partially refurbished and some dislocated remnants are under cover. The wat is in reasonable condition.
From Wat Ku Kaew it is only a short run to Khon Kaen.
* Asger Mollerup, Ancient Khmer Sites in Eastern Thailand.
© Kim Epton 2024
533 words, 8 photographs
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