This is Thailand?

If I was the type of person to make resolutions, the top of my list of resolutions on the subject of Thailand would be: ‘get your ass out of Bangkok and explore more of Thailand.’ Well, maybe the top of the list would be ‘become fluent in Thai’, this is exactly why I don’t make lists and resolutions.

While remaining crap at resolutions, I’m getting better at renting a car, driving a few hours and exploring more of Thailand. It’s well worth the exploring as you can find a number of unique, beautiful places, many of which retain aspects of a more traditional Thai lifestyle that is disappearing in Bangkok.

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Yes, this is Thailand and only a three hour car drive from Bangkok. This picture was taken from my hotel room, yep, scenic.

A few days before Songkran I headed Northeast to a place called Wang Nam Kiew. Wang Nam Kiew isn’t any great secret as it’s in guidebooks and know by Thais, it’s about 60 kilometers North of the Khao Yai National Park. The entire region is rolling foothills and mountains, it is truly beautiful and reminded me a great deal of Napa Valley in the way the foothills rolled along.

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One of the rooms with a great deck for beer drinking while looking at the valley and stars

We stayed a nice, small, local hotel- not much English which made the experience all the more fun.  The drive up and back was ideal with smaller roads that twist and snake through and around the foothills, loads of good roadside food and great weekend markets in some of the small towns. Khao Yai National Park is under an hour away, we visited one day and did a quick hike to a waterfall.

I’m not the best beach goer, sitting in the sun for extended periods isn’t my thing. My lack of desire to sit on beaches has fueled my interest in finding some inland weekend get-aways, and Wang Nam Kiew is top of my list.

The majority of the resorts in the area are small and located off the main roads and many times they are at the end of small winding roads on the top of the foothills. Once at the resort it’s a bit of a trek back out to the main road; the result is a laid back atmosphere where most visitors are just there to relax with friends, eat in the resort restaurant and hang out.

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Flowers were everywhere

The views and scenery are amazing, I was surprised this was Thailand as I felt like I was back in the Bay Area and in the Napa Valley region. The landscape alternates between brown foothills and lush mountains with loads of flowers. The stars come out- a bit of a shock after being in Bangkok where the bright city lights inhibit the view- you’re in the country, it’s dark at night and the sky was filled with stars.

Wang Nam Kiew is a great destination if you want to see a different ‘Thailand’, do a bit of hiking, some relaxing, eat some good food (Issan food) and stare at some stars.

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About faranginbangkok

Additional pictures: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/faranginbangkok For more updates about Bangkok, Thailand and other thoughts: www.twitter.com/lilrichardb I began working in Bangkok during 2008- a time that featured a great deal of political unrest in Thailand and particularly Bangkok. I had lived in San Francisco for 15 years and was working on a project in Thailand. Generally I spent 2 weeks in Bangkok and then 3-4 weeks in San Francisco. Did Bangkok begin to feel like home? Yes, and No. Bangkok and the Thai culture forced me to feel many things, the change in culture and environment was so dramatic it forced the decision- embrace or ignore. I embraced and made Bangkok my home and base in 2009. I have enjoyed living in Bangkok, experiencing Thailand and the entire ASEAN region.
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