Author Archives: Charlie No

The Giant Krabak Tree

I’ve been a way for a while, but here I am with a new travel report. I planned for several months to visit Taksin Maharat National Park (named after a former king of Thailand) in Tak province where the Giant Krabak Tree is growing. Some previous research told me that the Giant Krabak tree (anisoptera costata) is a species of plant of the  dipterocarpacease family. It’ s the largest  tree  growing in South East Asia – Costata in Latin (costatus) means  ribbed and describes the venation of the leaf blades. Krabak trees grow in lowland evergreen and semi evergreen forests.

Enough talking for now…. let’s hit the road to one of northern Thailand’s lesser known national parks.

Taksin Maharat National Park is located in the Mae Sot district of Tak province, about 3 kilometers off the main road. It’s a well paved winding mountain road. I was surprised to the park’s access road which was in real good condition, and so I was cherishing the hope that all the park would be just as clean. And yes, after entering the park’s main entrance, I was taken-aback by a well maintained park where there was no litter to be found, amazing. This is very rare in Thailand. The Head Office is about 500m from the  main  entrance and I was welcomed by the ever-friendly ranger. The ranger told me that the krabak tree was  approximately  2,5 kms  away  from the office – the first 1,700 meters could be done by vehicle and  the rest  on foot. The ranger told me that the krabak tree in this  park, towering 58 meters high  above the ground with a circumference of  approx. 16 meters, is the  largest of its kind  in Thailand. I couldn’t figure out  the age of the tree but it is probably more than 100 years old.

Stage 2  of my visit  was a quick visit to the  longest natural rock bridge  (saphan hin) in Thailand. I wasn’t aware that there were natural stone bridges of this size in Thailand. The  bridge is about 10 km away from the  headquarters, but again a couple of hundred meters have to be done on foot. The natural rock bridge is a massive rock bar  spanning  a gap  between two cliffs . The huge  rock bridge  measures about  30 meters in length and about 25 m wide. A stream flows  around 25 meters  beneath the huge rock structure. Heading towards the hot season, the riverbed was nearly dried out. The beautiful surroundings are ideal for picnicking and enjoying your day out.

There are several waterfalls  to explore too,  The Pang-an – Noi Waterfall is only 1 km away from the Giant Krabak Tree and certainly worth a visit. Several species of bird can be seen in the park. There is also an interpretive trail for hikers available with the  path starting at the Visitor Center. It descends gradually into a savanna forest and then eventually into a Dry Evergreen Forest  until it reaches the krabak tree 2,5 kilometers later. The trail then climbs up  the road  and follows the back to the head quarters .

The  park  has  9 lodges  available for rent and also  a canteen campground. As the campground is at the top of a mountain you can enjoy the view of amazing surroundings. I would really recommend a visit to this park.

The park  is about  480  km away from Bangkok  towards the  north. Take  the high road to  Nakhon Sawan then  turn left in the direction of  Tak. Upon arrival in Tak, follow the road signs to Mea Sot.  At  about  45 km from Mae Sot  you’ll see several signs pointing to the park .

If, after this park, you are interested in seeing more of the north, you can carry  on to Chiang Mai following high Road 105  to Mae Sariang in Chiang Mai province. This is a breathtaking  mountain ride and a perfect alternative route to going to Chiang Mai. A truly relaxing  outing for tourists who want to go off the beaten track. See  you again in a next episode of  UNSEEN THAILAND  

Biking to Krasieo Dam, Suphanburi

(Hardly a local insight… let alone a foreigner)

Last Saturday, I had a strong desire to mount my Tiger Girl again; I think I’m starting to become addicted to her. Krasieo Dam is about 85 km away from Suphanburi town in Dan Chang district the northern most point of Suphanburi province .

After doing a bit of research, I found out that Krasieo Dam is the largest earthen dam in Thailand. It is a storage dam holding a massive basin under her control, which contains about 393 million cubic meter of water. The water in the reservoir is mainly used for agriculture and water supply during the dry season – kind of a vast reserve tank.
I reached the park after a one hour ride only from Suphan town. It is not allowed to ride any vehicle on the dam but I was able to witness breathtaking surroundings. The clouds put a bit of a dampener on the day, because there wasn’t a blue sky. On the other hand, the skyline was filled with a nice range of mountains.

Fish farms are scattered all over the lake. The farms are all small scale fish farms, probably to maintain and respect nature’s prettiness. Only two species of fish are farmed here .The well known ‘pla nin’ (tilapia) and Plat thap thim’ (ruby fish. I had a short conversation with an ever friendly local farmer who told me he had to pay 100 baht tax, which allows him to farm fish for one year – ridiculously low.

(Time for lunch…… then take your pick)

At lunchtime I left the dam to search for a local restaurant near the lake. After only five minutes I was successful enough to find a nice fish one right next to the lake. I went for a grilled ruby fish. It took about 30 minutes to grill the fish. It had thought that everything was done here instantly with a fresh ruby fish from the lake. And I was right, nothing was prepared beforehand – my way of thinking was confirmed. When the dish was served there was a 1,2kg fish which filled the tray. This was one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten in my entire life. Total damage for lunch was the ridiculous amount of 370 baht all in.

With my belly full, I went back into action with my Tiger Girl. The lovely restaurant holder told me there was a dirt road around the lake. I was eager to know just how long the reservoir was, as there was hardly any information available on the Net about this place. The scenic dirt road is covered with pebbles and holes some of them quite deep, a bit of caution is advised here. A 4x 4 car or a large tired motorbike as mine is well in place here. Riding along the dirt road, you can witness dazzling views and experience total silence, which is hard to find in this era of machines and technology, even in the countryside. The average speed on this dirt road was only 25 km/h. I had to decide against my previous idea to go around the lake, as it wouldn’t have been possible anymore to be back home on the same day. I noticed that the total length of the reservoir is about 15 km long.

I finished my visit to this great lake with a great feeling; another beautiful day well of the beaten track in Thailand. I’m a bit disappointed though, that there is hardly anything to find on the Internet about unspoiled nature like this in Thailand. Nearly everything is geared towards the well known tourist attractions. Thailand has a lot more to offer than that..
Hope you enjoyed the read and hope to bump into you again on my next exploration.

If you don’t have your own transportation, you can simply ask a tuk-tuk driver in Dan Chang to take you there. To get to Dan Chang there are direct buses from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal and Suphanburi Town.

Biking to Wat Tham Seua, Kanchanaburi

Hi folks, I’ve been away for a while due to family obligations; but good souls always return.
On Sunday, here in Suphanburi Town, I took my trusty Tiger girl out of her cage for a days outing to nearby Kanchanaburi province. I didn’t have any previous plans or ideas about what to visit or see, I just mounted her, my Tiger boxer, and “Here we go”.

The road conditions towards Kanchanaburi are really great , the roads enabled me to cover the distance in about one hour only. Upon arrival in Kanchanaburi I decided to go to the east, away from the bridge over the River Khwae (not kwai as many foreigners used to say). The bridge is already so famous that I don’t want to elaborate about it.

Heading towards the east, I crossed the River Khwae which unveiled, instantly, her beauty. The River Khwae is obviously a beauty queen, with paddy rice fields, and mountains surrounding her banks.

After about 15 km following the River Khwae, a very beautiful structure arose from the skies. At first glance, from a far distance, I couldn’t see what kind of building it was, but on coming closer to the scene I realized it was a temple.
To get access to the temple you have to climb one flight of stairs but it counts to 157 steep steps. There is a cable lift available too, but this is more for the pussycats; a real man always go for the tougher way.

I was really surprised by the temple’s beauty. The name of the temple is Wat Tham Seau, which translates as Tiger Cave Temple, and it is located on a hilltop . I spent nearly 2 hours in the temple because there was so much to see. There is a huge Buddha image which is covered with a half dome (sphere) structure; and from the top one has a wonderful view of the River Khwae. The temple is one of the most colourful temples I ever have witnessed in my entire life. I was impressed by its innocent beauty.

Beautiful Buddha images are also inside the temple buildings inside the mountain which are inside a cave (tham). After a very surprising temple visit, very off the well beaten Kanchanaburi tourist track, I returned very satisfied to my home in Suphanburi .

Wat Tham Seau is located in Tambon Muang Chum just 5 kilometers from Mae Klong Dam. If you don’t have your own transport, it is recommended to talk to a motorbike taxi or tuk-tuk driver in Kanchanburi Town who ought to be more than enthusiastic to take you on a trip there. Well-worth going…..

Biking to Pattaya – Part 2

After returning home from my previous visit to Pattaya, a Belgian friend on holiday in Pattaya called me to visit him the weekend after. My Tiger’s engine wasn’t cold yet.

With the idea of going back to Pattaya, I started to gather some more information about Pattaya. I was interested where it had all began .The name “Pattaya” originates from “Thap Phraya”, meaning Army of the Phraya – memorializing the capitulation of Nai Klom’s army to that of Phraya Tak (Soon after King Taksin the Great), without a battle. Thap Phraya became Phatthaya (the name of the north-easterly wind at the beginning of the rainy season), and then Phatthaya (the true phonetic spelling).

From its beginning Pattaya was a small fishing village. Since the Vietnamese war broke out, Pattaya changed dramatically into one of the world’s tourism hot spots,. The opening of the new international airport near Pattaya was certainly a good move from the Thai officials. For Thai residents, Pattaya is the family resort par excellence. Pattaya offers lots of attractions such as Scuba diving, Ocean World, Pattaya Waterpark, tiger zoo etc, its too elaborating to name it all.

I made an appointment with my friend on Wong amat beach (Na klua).The northernmost tip of Pattaya Second Road, where it meets North Pattaya Road, marks the end of Pattaya Bay and the start of the area known as Naklua. Naklua means ‘salt fields’ , in reference to the main occupation of the region before the escalation of tourism ‘salt farming’. Nowadays, it still has the air of a village, with some old houses, narrow streets, traditional noodle shops, temples and a fishing pier. Slowly that is changing, however, with many condominium blocks now in the neighborhood, and lots of hotels and restaurants too. Wong Amat is a smoothly curving, 3km-long beach. It occupies the far northern end of the Pattaya Bay headland, but is only accessible from Naklua (usually Sois 16 or 18). Unlike Pattaya Beach or Jomtien, it is free of watersports activities, though that is likely to change. You can hire a deck chair and order some food at an open-air local restaurant at a reasonable price.

After a relaxing chat and dinner with some Belgian friends I was eager to visit the strongly promoted Xzyte Disco. I have to say it was worth paying a visit.

I just wanted to let everyone know how Awesome Xzyte is. Xzyte is HOT. The doorman told me that each night is different, they always are working very hard to keep things fresh and New. I couldn’t check it. I was only in Pattaya for one night. Xzyte has outrageous Las Veg#as Style Shows, but I haven’t been to Las Veg#as yet, and I think Xzyte Shows are BETTER than Las Veg#as,terrific! I think at Xzyte you will be overwhelmed your mind and make you feel good with some good music and a few jokes in between.

The Music is backed up with some very talented musicians as well. The drummer that night was amazing, he entertained everyone with a 5 – 10 minute solo act. I had the feeling I was listening to the great CESAR Zuiderwijk from the Golden Earring. You can really tell the difference between a group of people like the ones at Xzyte who really enjoy doing what they do, Some Thai big name artists showed up before at Xzyte and they wouldn’t waste their time if Xzyte wasn’t worth it. Perfect to spend your night there with your spouse.

The second day I planned to visit Jomtien beach. Jomtien Beach is located about 2 kilometers from South Pattaya. This beach and the area has become more and more popular for swimming, water sports and activities because it has a long straight coastline. There are many hotels guesthouses and restaurants available just across the street from the beach. Many tourists like to be on Jomtien beach because It has long white sandy beach, furthermore you can witness a beautiful coastline and some pretty islands. After a 2 hour (relaxing) time on the beach, I decided to go back home. The very minor point of Jomtien beach is the ever disturbing beach vendors. That’s the reason why I put relaxing in between brackets. If there was a vendor selling parrots I probably would have bought one. Next time I go to Jomthien beach I’ll bring myself a parrot. And I will teach him “mai ow khrap” for a male “mai ow kha” for a female. That means “No thank you”. Every minute vendors disturb you with whatever you can imagine .

After all Pattaya is always a worthwhile visit. I’ve been too many beach resorts already but, I think I may say Pattaya is the most complete Beach resort I ever have seen in my entire life. Anything you want is available in Pattaya. But, contrary to common belief, it’s also a family resort!

Have a nice time in Pattaya … CHARLIE

Biking to Pattaya

I’d been thinking for a long time, whether or not, as there are hundreds on online already, if writing a blog about Pattaya was a good idea. I mean there is nothing unseen in this seaside town vicinity anymore. I do really wonder how many nicknames Pattaya has: Dodge City, Sin City, Porn Town and the Land of Go-Gos Galore. And these are only a handful of example names. Yet, there is so much more to do in Pattaya than just drinking and whatever related these days. Over the last decade, Pattaya has certainly brushed its image up with an aquarium, fun park, zoo and tropical gardens etc….etc…. Foreigners are always amazed that Thais think the place is a family-friendly haven for kids.!

A couple of Saturday mornings back after spending the previous night in Bangkok, I took my Golden Tiger Girl out of her cage for the 230 km walk. After only hearing the idea of setting off for another weekend out, she was already purring and eager to go. Being honest, the only part of the Eastern seaboard journey I don’t really like is the city crossing of Bangkok; passing through an endless stream of lights, you are often stopped by a squad of ever-friendly Boys-in-Brown who think up any old excuse to extort tips from you.

Actually, just evening the evening before, on the way from Suphanburi, I was a little more fortunate than usual; I was pulled over for ‘apparently’ not driving on the left lane, but after explaining to him that I’d had to move out the way of some manic bus driver who was about to mow me down, he accepted the reasoning and let me off.

Got to say, there is some absurd traffic law enforcement in Thailand; while the Boys-in-Brown are sat there goggling at pretty office ladies walking past, they are indifferent to those drivers zooming past wearing no helmet, driving on the wrong side of the road or sitting 5 to a bike. It seems the only time they get to work is when either the big boss comes to inspect or they need to fill up the whiskey funds.

Bag packed, helmet at the ready, I mounted my Tiger girl and pulled her ears and instant roaring was the result. Off I was with her …….. and my ride through the concrete jungle of Bangkok was, this time around, a much more straight-forward one.

Prior to setting out on the journey, I had planned only 2 coffee stops, the first one in Bangkok, and the second in Chonburi, but after being ‘taken for a ride’ by the cops the evening last, I decided against making a coffee stop in Bangkok and besides my Tiger girl wasn’t looking so thirsty. I opted to make the first stop instead in Samut Prakarn as my intention had been to go for the Samutprakan – Chonburi connection due to the road being better than the terribly pot-holed Bangna-trat Rd . After a well-earned lunch, I took Tiger off for the final stage of the journey towards Pattaya.

We didn’t really experience anything hazardous along the way here, except that is for the numerous trucks and ever crossing dogs on the way to the beach resort par excellence. This is one of the worst roads in Thailand. Only the elevated road is in good condition.

Once I arrived in Pattaya, I launched my search for a room but after finding that the place was booked out, I ended up in a very romantic short- time love motel. The bathroom didn’t have a door and it was surrounded with glass walls. What a nice view for amateurs .Can you imagine ………

After an uneventful evening having a quiet few drinks with a couple of old friends, the following morning I went to the highest summit of Pattaya. It’s a short swooping but very steep ascent to the top. My Tiger Boxer 250 Rs was amused by it. For her it was just a short hike. At the top you can witness a breathtaking view over Pattaya Bay with its impressive skyline.

From there, I went straight to Bang Sare travelling along the Sukhumvit Road. Just past the entrance to Nong Nooch Tropical Garden you can see the road sign to Bang Sare and about 7 km further on to Sattahip you will be in Bang Sare. Here you can find several kilometers of golden sandy beach and the area is well-known for its stilted restaurants serving mouth-watering seafood dishes, at a very low cost in a family-friendly safe environment. People come to Bang Sare to relax and enjoy beautiful scenery surrounded by friendly and smiling Thai people. Nearby there is a nice little fishing port with traditional Thai fishing boats scattered around.

After dinner, I took my Golden tiger girl to Walking Street, which is the infamous, seedy part of Pattaya that is covered in western men, and very rarely western woman, looking for some company. And you cannot miss those offering business, as they are everywhere you go, there are also Go-go bar doormen offering not so delicious “menus” every 10 meters. I had had dinner already so I wasn’t hungry anymore! To be honest I find it quite sad, from the point of view of many of the working girls there, it is there only way to make a living, and from the westerners’ point of view they feel they can find someone they can call a “girlfriend”.

Sunday morning I had to leave Pattaya to return back to Suphanburi. I had planned a stop at Sri Racha which is a seaside port and fishing town. It’s about 30 minutes north of Pattaya by bike. It is the largest private port on the eastern shore of Thailand in Chonburi province. One of the main attractions in Sri Racha is the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo and the pier is also worth a visit, together with its sea turtle basin. The turtles there are so tame you can easily lay a hand on them.

After a 100 baht breakfast and lunch at the same time, I continued my way back to Suphanburi. Early evening, My Golden Tiger girl dropped me off her back right in front of my front door. She had completely fulfilled her assignment with great ease .

Mission accomplished ………..

More tourist information for Pattaya at