In my last blog I talked about the defeat of the Thai by the Burmese in the 1760s. Conflicts with Burma are a recurring theme in this area. A short distance away, at Don Chedi in Suphan Buri, is a memorial to the 1592 victory over the Burmese.
We spent a pleasant day taking in some of the sights in Suphan Buri, but really just scratched the surface. Writing this blog, I realise that one of the themes for the day was animals.
Our first stop was the complex of attractions at Bueng Chawak. There are many things to see here, an aquarium, various animals, birds, and plants. Of course, we only saw a fraction of it. It would probably take a whole day to do it justice. It was a popular place, full of children, parents, and mini-van loads of monks. Even a talent show. Though it wasn’t the destination I would have picked if I had been on my own (I would have gone for more history) it was a nice feeling: Thai families having a day out.
Our next stop was the Buffalo Village. This has been described as a tourist trap, and it is true that they charge farang prices, even though my Thai friends bought the tickets.
The village contains some pleasant gardens and examples of traditional Thai houses, but the main “attraction” for me was the buffalo show. It occurred to me that this is the sort of thing that we sell to foreign tourists in New Zealand. In our case it is demonstrations of sheep shearing, rounding up sheep with dogs (sheep are big in New Zealand), and ploughing (with tractors). But here the buffalo do the ploughing and I didn’t see any foreign tourists, just local Thai people, including the ever-present monks.
It would be easy to make fun of the show, but, like the shows back in New Zealand, it is always interesting to see real animals at work. And of course we got to feed them in at the end. Feeding animals, especially fish, seems to be a popular pastime in Thailand.
The sun was getting low by the time we got to Don Chedi. It was immediately obvious that this was a popular and important site. To get to it we had to pass a gauntlet of stalls selling everything from electronic equipment to handbags. My friends insisted that I try the fried bugs so I was soon wandering around with a bag full of grasshoppers and various other invertebrates. I’ve eaten bugs at “wild food” festivals back home, so I was a little disappointed that in this case the cooking process had vaporised all of the flesh. Only the exoskeletons remained and the mixture was sprayed with syrup. Not unpleasant, but very sweet and I did not manage to finish the bag.
But on to the monument. There is a lot of detail about King Naresuan, and his 1592 victory over the Burmese in an elephant battle here and in this blog. The impressive pagoda was constructed in the early 20th century, over the remains of a much older monument.
Inside the monument there are many displays, in Thai and English, and some very realistic-looking models of the battle. Almost like being there. Of course, the Burmese are the ones in red in the picture above getting the worst of it.
Outside there were some real elephants, giving a better feel of the scale. And, of course, we got to feed them.
After that it was time to feed ourselves, at yet another excellent roadside restaurant. Another interesting day in Central Thailand. And not another foreigner in sight.