The Glorious Ruins of Phimai

Phimai Travel Blog

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After arriving in Nakhon Ratchasima, I quickly settled in at Po Muang Hotel. This hotel didn't seem to really cater for tourists, but I decided to stay anyway because I was too lazy to go and search for any other hotels. According to the Lonely Planet there weren't that many hotels catering for tourists anyways in Nakhon Ratchasima.

I wandered around the city for a bit, until I stumbled upon a place that rented out motorbikes. It was a tad bit expensive and the bastard wouldn't give me a discount. On top of the already expensive rental price of 300B a day, there was also a mileage limit of 150km a day. I wasn't in the mood to try and find another place, as I was stretched for time, and I really wanted to visit the ancient city of Muang Sema.
Prasat Non Ku
After much haggling and pleading, he made a deal for 2 days rental, of 500Baht :S.

I sped off on the highway in the direction of Saraburi, to seek out the Khmer ruins located near Muang Sema. The 3 ruins were restored however they had nothing to show besides a few doorframes and a stone base. Prasat Non Ku was the first, then Prasat Muang Kaek and finally Prasat Muang Kao, which had a reasonable structure all in laterite. Prasat Muang Kao was another hospital chapel that King Jayavarman VII left as part of his legacy during the Angkor period.

After quickly visiting the three Khmer ruins, I seeked out an old Dvaravati sandstone Reclining Buddha. Apparently this was the largest of its kind and also the oldest of its kind in Thailand.
Prasat Muang kaek
It was easy to find as there were many signs along the way indicating which direction to take. The sandstone Reclining Buddha is now housed under a tin shed, within a temple compound.

On the way back I stopped off in the ancient Dvaravati city of Muang Sema. Muang Sema had a few remains left scattered around the area, most of which were constructed in brick. There were a few additions during the Khmer occupation of the area, but it was hard to locate any ruins and names of the ruins as there were no available maps and no available signs in English to indicate which ruin was which.

I originally planned to visit Chok Chai, but it was too far away and I was almost already over my mileage limit. Therefore I seeked out Si Khui Quarry instead. This ancient Quarry is only one of two that has been found in Thailand.
Wat Dhammachakra Sema Ram
It is from here that the ancient Khmers cut the stone blocks and carted them off to build their magnificent ruins.

I called it a day as I was almost running out of mileage. I dropped the motorbike off at my hotel, and wandered around looking for an internet joint and a place to eat.

The following morning I set off for Prasat Phimai located about 60km away from Nakhon Ratchasima. Prasat Phimai is located within the small town of Phimai and is surrounded by an ancient wall and moat. Along the way I dropped off at Prasat Phnom Wan, which is about 20km away from Nakhon Ratchasima. It is a sizeable ruin, however it lacks the distinct Khmer Prang that is famed and appreciated in Thailand.
Prasat Phnom Wan
Nearby was also Prasat Noen Oraphim which only had a base remaining.

As I entered Phimai town, I popped into the Phimai National Museum as it was on the way. Within the Phimai National Museum were a great collection of Khmer artefacts. Outside under a tin shed were rows and rows of Lintels that were taken from many of the Khmer ruins scattered around Thailand. There were quiet a number of disturbing pieces as they all read "unknown provenance, gift from border police" which obviously indicates that these were taken from the Khmer ruins located within Cambodia.

Within the actual museum building itself were much better quality carvings, sculptures, roof tiles, lintels, iron pieces that held the stones together, many gold leaves that were buried and hidden under stones within each Khmer temple and the prized possession of many Angkor era jewerelly, crowns and hand/ankle bracelets.
Phimai Museum
No crowns, gold leafs and so fourth have survived in Cambodia due to the sacking of Angkor by the Siamese in 1431 when they carted everything off to Siam, due to the Khmer Rouge, due to the current pillaging and selling of artefacts, and it is a shame as it seems that the most important artefacts are all now in Thailand.

I bumped into Kenji yet again as I left the museum, he had just left Prasat Phimai and said it was beautiful. We decided to catch up after we individually visited the Phimai Museum and Prasat Phimai. He told me that a few bus loads of kindergarten children was there, but I was fortunate enough when I arrived they had all started to leave.

As I arrived, the locals were preparing the site for a Buddhist festival the following day, so there were strings and wires everywhere.
Prasat Phimai
Though within Prasat Phimai there was no trace of this, thank god. I spent about an hour admiring the ruin. It seems that most of the ruin has been reconstructed as according to old photos there was really nothing left of the site.

I headed back out to meet Kenji at the gate, we had lunch and set off for the smaller ruins due south of Prasat Phimai. A hospital chapel which was 1km away with no name and the last ruin, an ancient landing platform about another km away.

After visiting the above sites we set off for Saignum Park just 2km away. Saignum Park was a park that had many banyan trees which gave it a very surrealistic atmosphere. We took a few photos and walked through towards the back, where we witnessed a group of locals jumping around and chasing each other in the mud.
Prasat Phimai
It turns out that they were fishing. At first we thought that they were fishing for small fish so they could resell for people to release back into the lake for good merit. However it was a surprise to see that when they were chasing and jumping on top of each other, they were in fact catching large catfishes about 40cm long. It was very enjoyable watching these grown men and woman jumping and splashing in the mud LOL.

Well it was 2:30pm by the time we decided to leave, and I was contemplating on whether to leave Phimai or to visit the archaelogical site of Ban Prasat. In the end I decided to just relax and kickback at Prasat Phimai, as my butt cheeks needed the rest from the whole week of motorbike riding from dawn to dusk. I figured that I could visit Ban Prasat next time. The ruins of Prasat Phimai were trully amazing, I could sit there all day and relax and do nothing, just sit there and look out at the magnificent structure and chat to a mate or the locals.
Prasat Phimai


I set back to Nakhon Ratchasima at about 3:50pm as I needed to get back before 5:00pm. When I believed it was safe I was whizzing at 120km/hr (only when the road was 100% perfect and when there were no shops, traffic and people around).

I originally planned to do a trek out in the bush to see some wild animals at Thailand's oldest National Park, Khao Yai. However this was once again cancelled as I am literally running out of money and I'm a tad bit scared I won't have enough for the remainder of my trip. I've been spending so tightly these days it's not funny.... Curse you Vietscam! It's all your fault.. And continually I meet new people along my journey and everyone says the exact same thing about Vietscam, "the people are arseholes".
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Prasat Non Ku
Prasat Non Ku
Prasat Muang kaek
Prasat Muang kaek
Wat Dhammachakra Sema Ram
Wat Dhammachakra Sema Ram
Prasat Phnom Wan
Prasat Phnom Wan
Phimai Museum
Phimai Museum
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Sai Ngam Park
Sai Ngam Park
Sai Ngam Park
Sai Ngam Park
Sai Ngam Park
Sai Ngam Park
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Prasat Phimai
Phimai
photo by: droonsta