A trip to explore “off the beaten track” destinations organized by TICA and supported by TCEB took us to Khao Yai & Korat. Deep diving into the fascinating & diverse beliefs of the locals and their inspiration behind the efforts to preserve the heritage of their environs and their folks.
On 24 March at 7.30 AM we gathered at So Hotel Bangkok. This hotel places itself in the luxury 5 star segment in the heart of Bangkok and rightly so. The style and elegance of this hotel has been drawn from the essence of Water, Earth, Wood, Metal & Fire by the designers inspired from the neighboring Lumpini Park and Feng Shui philosophy. A quick coffee and light breakfast was enough to give me a peek at the luxury that this hotel has to offer.
We headed to Khao Yai, which is about 2 hours’ drive from Bangkok, and yes, it took us 3 hours. Thank you Bangkok traffic, you never surprise us.
We stopped at Yungkhaow Khao Yai restaurant, this restaurant has been running for many years and serves Southern style cuisine. The emphasis on rich and intense flavors was evident in their menu.
Post sumptuous lunch we headed to Ban Mak Muang (The Mango House) This Mango farm is spread over 250 rai of land and grows many varieties of Mangoes especially Nam Dok Mai. The techniques of Mango farming has been passed on by generations at this farm and together with the Pak Chong land and the weather makes it perfect for delicious mangoes. I was a little shy to ask for a third serving of mango sticky rice and mango ice cream.
The Owner, Ms. Waraporn post her graduation from one of the elite universities of Thailand decided to return to her native land and develop the mango orchard. She now supplies mangoes to almost all provinces in Thailand. With a vision to showcase her community and how mango orchards are maintained, she now has opened her farm to tourists to come and get hands on experience, explore, understand, recognize and appreciate the work put in to grow the mangoes that we enjoy.
The Mango Farm House
Mango Orchard amidst lush green hills of Khao Yai
Can’t get enough of it.
Next Stop was Hotel Labaris Khao Yai. This hotel takes inspiration from the realm of King Minotaur and his mythical creatures. This adventurous and wonder kingdom covers an area of 24,000 sq.m. Leading room type start from 45 sq.m (Deluxe Rooms), Grande Deluxe, Duplex, Infinite Villa (1 Beed Room and 2 Bed Rooms) Their Conference room (Labaris Town Hall) can accommodate upto 200 guests and their smaller function room (Labaris Royale Room) is perfect for a group of 30 guests.
Entrance to Labaris Hotel Khao Yai
Villas at Labaris Hotel
The Luxury is quite evident at the Labaris Hotel
We headed to Movenpick Resort Khao Yai for the night. Settled amidst one of the most fascinating locations in Khao Yai, the hotel offers an ideal hideaway experience and true natural beauty of Khao Yai. The fresh mountain air, spectacular forest views and extensive gardens filled with the essence of flowers.
Entrance to Movenpick Resort Khao Yai
Views from the guest rooms at Movenpick Resort Khao Yai
Day 2, 25th March 2021. Today we headed to Korat and on the way met some interesting people showcasing their love for nature, local community and storytelling.
After an hour’s drive from Movenpick Resort, we arrived at our first stop, Cool Living Farmhouse an organic farm which is located in Wang Nam Kheaw in Nakhon Ratchasima province. This farmhouse offers a glimpse of farm living with activities such as feeding the hens, collecting eggs, sowing and harvesting the vegetables grown. This farm house also offers farm stay experience for travelers who are interested in spending a night or two at the farmhouse.
We had lunch at the Farmhouse, the concept of farm to the table was evident as all the ingredients were grown at the farm.
Rustic Signboards are a norm at Cool Living Farm House
Rooms with a view of paddy fields and greenery at Cool Living
Activities such as feeding the livestock takes us back to basics.
Greenhouses where the veggies come from, at Cool Living
A scenic drive of about 50 mins and we arrived at the Baan Japoh Silk Community. An afternoon well spent among the Silk weaving community. Japoh Thai Silk is a small co-operative based in Pak Thong Chai of Nakhon Ratchasima province. The home of traditional handwoven Thai Silk Fabrics. The highly skilled local artisans with a lifetime of experience in traditional hand woven silks. Keeping their production process true to local traditions they produce high quality and unique patterns of hand reeled silk fabrics. Traditional hand woven Thai Silk came to limelight when Khun Araya Hargate wore a gown at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Home of Traditionally woven Thai Silks.
Thai Silks made with a lot of love.
It takes anywhere between 2 – 10 days to produce a masterpiece.
Its work time.
Pictures do not make justice for such beautifully crafted fabrics
Next, we were in Korat at Semalai Semathai. Semathai Marionette Arts for Social Foundation. The Artistic hub of Northeast Thailand, Semalai Semathai hosts workshops and activities led by artists and teachers from Thailand and around the world. Topics include contemporary and folk arts as well as earth sciences. Khun Nimith, Silapathorn Award winning artist in performing arts has created this cozy learning Centre to deliver the story of Korat, about the resistance of the people against the French army during the reign of King Rama V.
The Dinner was at this unique place called Ruean Chom Manee. A Traditional Thai house surrounded by gardens and various trees, providing a cool and shady atmosphere, this venue is also suitable for events that prefer to immerse in Thai Culture, as this restaurant also houses Southern Issan Pottery museum, this private collector (Khun Aumporn Reanmanee) has Issan pottery collection dating back to the Lopburi Era.
Issan Pottery dating back to Lopburi Era
It is heartwarming to see such passion to preserve souvenirs of the ancestors to remind the younger generations.
Our home for the night was Centre Point Hotel at Terminal 21 Korat. This modern hotel opened for business in November 2020. Deluxe Rooms start from 31 Sq.m. This hotel also has large conference venues and meeting halls for all sizes (30 – 3000 PAX)
Modern Rooms at Centre Point Terminal 21 Korat
3000 PAX convention centre at a Tier 2 City was pleasing to see.
Today, 26 March 2021, we are heading back to Bangkok, but not before a stop to EGATE Learning Centre at Lam Ta Khong. This is a project that EGATE aims to be a learning center for electric power. Here one can learn how electricity from various types of energy is produced, including fossil fuels, water, wind and hybrid hydrogen system.
This makes a very good learning for the young and also updates the knowledge of older folks.
After a 2 hour drive we arrive at Bannok Kokna for lunch. Their aim is to bring people that love nature together, they have built an organic farm along with farm stay to let people enjoy not only beautiful scenery and consume organic food but also share knowledge about organic farming and bringing people closer to nature.
Post a satisfying organic lunch amidst green surroundings, we headed back to Bangkok.
Our last stop before heading to Bangkok.
Spending a night or two away from the city madness sure does rejuvenate our souls and body.