When I told my Thai colleagues that I was going to this north eastern province they all asked whether I was I going to watch football. Buri Ram United is the most successful and one of the most followed team of recent Thai footballing history.
Their stadium, “Thunder Castle”, seats over 25,000. Their logo gives a clue what we were really going to see:
Yes the temple at the top. A thousand years ago, Buri Ram was part of the Khmer Empire. Many ruins from that time are to be found mainly in the southern part of the province not far from the present Cambodian border. The two most significant being Phanom Rung and Prasat Muang Tam. It was only in the 19th century that Buri Ram was incorporated into Siam as a province. I had visited both some 30 years previously but my wife had never been. I was keen to take her and see the changes.
First Phanom Rung which sits atop a volcanic outcrop well above the rice fields stretching out as far as one can see. The approach is impressive
What had changed from my last visit was the landscaping. It was impressive especially the park and trees surrounding the complex. Logistically it cannot be easy because this would involve moving a lot of water up the hillside.
Here is a nice Bhodi tree. It was a hot day 33 degrees C but the shade from the trees and breeze made it very pleasant.
It was lovely. Smaller scale than the Angkor Wat complex but if you wish to see a well preserved Khmer temple in peaceful and contemplative surroundings this is the place to come. On to Prasat Muang Tam just 8 kilometres away.
This was greatly changed since I last visited. I thought it had lost a little of its previous run down charm but certainly has gained in grandeur. It was fairly open 30 years ago but now these trees have grown up all around.
On low lying land Muang Tam (which actually means “low city”) has far more water than Phanom Rung and 4 large L shaped ponds are located within the temple
A mature fig tree within the temple complex.
And a 100 year old mango tree according to the temple officials sitting in the shade
Muang Tam is famous for its lintels.
Classic Khmer temple doorways at Muang Tam
I thought it had changed much since I last visited in 1984 and I read that in 1997 the Thailand Fine Arts department reconstructed the temple complex using the anastylosis method. I had to look that up. Anastylosis is an archaeological term for a reconstruction technique whereby a ruined building is restored using the original architectural elements to the greatest degree possible. Actually I think they did a fantastic job.
I wanted add a temple I hadn’t visited before so we drove west about 30 kilometres southwest to Prasat Nong Hong. The advantage of going to the lesser known ones is that you generally will have the site to yourself. It is situated just below Lam Nang Rong dam which is a very popular place for locals to go and swim at the weekends.
View from the “carpark”. You can see the earth dam in the background.
…….and here is our car parked in the shade of a beautiful rain tree.
The closest we got to Buri Ram United and “Thunder Castle”? An excellent grilled duck restaurant directly opposite the stadium. The last meal was definitely the best; grilled duck, som tam and sticky rice.