The People of Angkor, in Northeast Thailand

Surin Travel Blog

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I left Sisaket early in the morning and arrived at Surin bus station. There doesn't seem to be many accomodation choices, so I opted for Pirom' House as recommended by the Lonely Planet.

Pirom's Old House has moved to a new destination, located off the road to the airport (55. 326 Soi Arunee, Thungpoh Road, Muang Dis, Surin 32000). Its about 1.6km walk from the bus station.

Pirom's new house was a nice little place, that had many tour packages available to tourists. The packages were a tad bit expensive for my pockets so I just caught public transport to the ruins nearby. Pirom is very knowledgeable on the Khmer ruins that are scattered around Surin, and will kindly help you out and recommend certain sites, and of course how to get there.
Prasat Phnom Rung


After settling in, I caught a public bus (20B) to my first stop Prasat Muang Thi (heading back towards Sisaket). Prasat Muang Thi is a 5 tower ruin, but only 3 remains. It's located about 1km off the main highway. On the main highway I tried to flag down a Sawntheaw, but the bastards just kept on driving. I walked about 1-2km and then managed to flag down a motorbike, who kindly took me to my next site, Prasat Chang Pi. Prasat Chang Pi was a Hospital/Resthouse constructed in the 13th Century, and is in a very poor shape. Back on the highway I flagged down a Sawntheaw, and it turns out that the driver was Khmer.

He kindly offered to take me to my final site for today which was Prasat Sikhoraphum. Prasat Sikhoraphum has been completely restored and is surrounded by a moat, it contains 5 towers but the tops of each tower have been reconstructed in a Loation style, during the Lao occupation of the area.
Prasat Phnom Rung
There were some very exquisit carvings on the central tower.

After a quick tour around the Prasat, I jumped back in the Sawntheaw and we headed back to his home village, as he needed to pick up his wife. I spent a bit of time watching the local Khmers do their daily things. According to him, there were 80% Khmers in Surin. After about an hour we set off back to Surin.

The following morning, I was originally planning to catch public transport to the ruins of Prasat Tamuen, located on the Cambodian border. However as I was heading to the town of Prasat, I quickly changed my mind and decided to go straight on to the town of Nang Rong.

Here in Nang Rong, I stayed at the only place listed in the Lonely Planet, Honey Inn.
Prasat Phnom Rung
Honey Inn was a very cosy little place, that had an excellent owner. Unfortunately the original owner has passed away, and his wife Phanna, continues his legacy providing excellent service and of course a home away from home. I managed to rent our a motorcycle from Honey Inn, and went cruising around the countryside.

Once again my initial plan was to visit Prasat Phnom Rung, but the sky was very cloudy and gloomy and I didn't want to take photos in such condition at such a great site. Therefore when I saw a sign indicating Wat Angkhan, I turned off and rode into the countryside not knowing where I was going to end up at. The ride to Angkhan was a very confusing ride as there were so many turns and at many points there were no signs to tell you where to continue to. I had to ask the locals at many points along the journey, and it turns out that almost everyone I asked were Khmer.
Prasat Phnom Rung
At first it would be "Sawatdeekarp" and then they would speak a lot of Thai, and I would reply "Mai Chai Pasaa Thai" and the would laugh. Then I asked "Chai Pasaa Khmer" and they would respond with "Chai Khmer" and we would start talking in Khmer, THANK GOD I know a second language!

Wat Angkhan wasn't an appealing site, as the original ruins at this site have long gone. Wat Angkhan is located on top of a hill out in the middle of no where. There were no villages or rice fields in site, just lots of earthern digging by huge trucks.

My next stop was Prasat Khao Lup, which again was hard to find. I had the point on my GPS but just could not find the right road to head there. It was by chance that I found it in the end, as I had already given up and decided to head in the direction of the main sites, Prasat Muang Tham.
Prasat Phnom Rung
Once again nothing remains at Prasat Khao Lup, which was located on top of a hill.

I drove through rice paddy fields at one point to reach Prasat Plai Bat, but came to an end as there were no more paths to follow. I was so close to the destination, only 300 metres away according to my GPS unit!!!! But from a distance I could see on the hill that the ruin was probably long gone, as there was an iron shed covering it.

Prasat Thong also had nothing remaining, but as I've told many people, I seek out these ruins so I can tick them off my list, but it's not the actual ruins that's enjoyable but the actual journey and adventure to get there. Nearby was an ancient kiln site, that wasn't so interesting.

After giving up on my last 2 sites, a Dharmasala and rasat Kuen Mai Kha, I headed back Nang Rong, to my home sweet home.
Prasat Phnom Rung


That evening I had a chat with another traveller who was hanging around at Honey Inn. Reni, from Quebec Canada was planning to either head to Ubon Ratchatani or to head to the ruins on the Cambodian border. After a bit of discussion, we decided to head to the group of Prasat Tameun temples in the morning.

He rode the next morning, and I was very lucky that he did, because along the way we were stopped by a policemen who demanded to see a drivers license. My drivers license of course was stolen when I was back in Vietscam 2 months before... GRRRRR Vietscam... causing so many hassles and problems throughout my trip... and NO I'm not going to get over it, the incident still runs through my head every so often. Because I had to cancel my Hot Airballoon ride over Bagan, I had to cancel my plans of extending my trip, I'm running out of money because I can't withdraw any extra money.
Prasat Phnom Rung
.. arghhh GRRR VIETSCAM!

Before Prasat Ta Meun, I wanted to stop off at Prasat Bai Baek, since it was a unique temple that contained 3 brick towers with 2 tones of brick. The journey here would of only taken a few minutes, but as we found the road to get there it turns out that theres a brand new dam nearby and so the road wasn't there no more, instead there was a huge lake. It took over an hour to get to the ruin, even though it was only 5km away. Along the way we kept on asking the locals, and like in Surin it turned out that they were all Khmer... So in the end we found it after doing a BIG circle around the ruin.

We stopped off for lunch when we were about 10km away from the Ta Muen group of temples. In front of the restaurant I saw a Wat that I was kind of interested in, partly because in Thai the name of the Wat read "Wat Prasat Hong".
Prasat Phnom Rung
Usually if a Wat name had Prasat in it, it would mean its a Khmer site (usually, not all). So after having my bowl of Kuey Theaw, I walked across the road and found the remains of a Khmer ruin that was not on my list... yippee hehehe.

Prasat Ta Muen was next, a small Resthouse that has been restored. Made out of laterite and constructed by King Jayavarman VII. The next stop was Prasat Ta Muen Toch, a hospital chapel, once again constructed by King Jayavarman VII. Our final destination was Prasat Ta Muen Thom. Ta Muen Thom was in an appalling state. There was some very uneducated restoration done!!! The ruin must of looked very neat in its day. But now most of it lays in ruins.

We headed back to Nang Rong passing Prasat Muang Tham and Prasat Phnom Rung. I thanked Reni and wished him well for the rest of his trip.
Prasat Phnom Rung


The next day, I rented the motorbike and headed to Prasat Phnom Rung. I was in such a hurry to get there that when I arrived I realised that I forgot my camera battery... arghhhh I had to drive back 30km to pick it up. Luckily I arrived back at Prasat Phnom Rung, just before the 3-4 busloads of children arrived. Prasar Phnom Rung was beautiful, it has been heavily restored and has some very detailed carvings.

Surprised, surprise by chance I met Kenji again, after we went our own ways in Chiang Mai, he went to Laos and I went to Myanmar. LOL what a coincidence. I stayed for an hour or two at Phnom Rung, before heading to Prasat Muang Tham a few km away. Along the way I stopped off at Prasat Kuti Ruesi Nong Bua Rai (a hospital chapel), Prasat Ban Bu (resthouse) and Prasat Kuti Ruesi Kaok Meuang (hospital chapel).
Prasat Phnom Rung


Prasat Muang Tam was another beautifully restored site. Which has man detailed carvings and a moat surrounding the site. I met Kenji there again, and we just sat and had a chat about our seperate journies through Laos and Myanmar.

I was determined to revisit Prasat Plai Bat, so I headed in a different direction to get there. I found the entry up the hill which led to a modern Wat. I asked the monks there and they said I had to walk about 2km to the back of the hill... I of course was very lazy and just gave it a miss hehehe.

My last 2 sites in Buriram was Prasat Kok Prasat and Wat Rong Matheat, the first was a big enclosure but nothing remains of this site, and the second once again had nothing remaining.
Prasat Phnom Rung
I called it a night and headed back to Honey Inn, to rest up so I could continue my journey to Nakhon Ratchasima the following morning.
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Prasat Phnom Rung
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Prasat Kuti Russi near Prasat Muan…
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Surin
photo by: bluemarbletreader