Suphan Buri: Just By Chance
Suphan Buri Province
26 January 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
I first met my friend Cherry in May of 2007. She was a tour guide and her group made a stop at the Hua Hin beach resort. We met by chance at a food stall there. When Cherry took a job as a teacher in her hometown of Suphan Buri, I decided to visit her and see a new area of Central Thailand.
We toured the city, visited the City Pillar Shrine and the Chinese Temple, and just by chance, participated in a Monk initiation ceremony at a temple near the Buffalo Village Museum.
Wat Pa Lelai in Suphanburi holds a Buddha statue named Luang Pho To, 23m (75 ft) high. The temple is about 800 years old. Come and pray. Divine your fortune.
At a statue of King Naresuan the Great (1555 – 1605), local residents and farmers brought offerings of plaster chickens in the hope of bringing an end to the avian flu outbreak that had struck several nearby farming areas in 2004..
Cherry invited me to a big festival in Don Chedi, 30k from Suphan Buri. The festival commemorates the Battle of Nong Serai and the victory of King Naresuan over the Burmese in 1593. The festivities include a beauty pageant, dance performances, and a nighttime reenactment of the battles, including pairs of dueling elephants, a military “cast of thousands” and appropriate celebratory fireworks.
Along with her son Om, Cherry and I also rode to the observation deck of the Banharn - Jamsai Tower (123m – 404 ft) that overlooks Chaloem Phatthara Rachini Park in the center of Suphan Buri. There’s a museum in the park, and just by chance I found photos of several temples in the nearby town of U Thong.
The next day we took two buses and then hired two motorbike drivers in U Thong to take us to the local temples. At Wat Khao Phra Si Sanphet Chayaram we found a huge reclining Buddha in a cave. At Wat Khao Di Salak we found an ancient and enormous bas relief Buddha footprint carved in red sandstone dating back to the 9th – 11th Century. The views from the hilltop temples to the distant plains and far distant mountains are striking and bright.
Despite appearances, I do make plans when I travel. Yet sometimes, I admit, I am impulsive. And sometimes the most rewarding moments are the ones that are unplanned, like making a new friend, crashing a party, and visiting a site that is not mentioned in any guidebook. And elephant jousting!
These happy moments…well, they happen… just by chance.