Where nature and fantasy meet

Larn Kueak Kaow.

In the early morning, I woke up to a breathtaking view of Cha-am beach with an azure sky. It was a sunny day to relax and soak up the splendor of nature taking a deep breath of fresh air, perfect for my first hike after working from home for two years. It was like a challenge to put my physical abilities to the test.

Just a 10 minute drive from my resort, Khao Nang Phanthurat Forest Park is a magical entrance to the Thai folk tale realm Sung string, with its dazzling 2.5 km trail crossing the heart of the limestone hill, home to various native plants and fauna.

In 1996, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej boarded a helicopter to travel to Klai Kangwon Palace and noticed that parts of Khao Phanthurat were collapsing. He had the authorities to reforest the 1,562 rai land before it was designated as a National Heritage Site in 1999 so that future generations can learn more about natural resources and the history of Thai literature.

This limestone mountain appears as a natural sculpture of a giant lying on its back stretching north to south, thanks to the imagination. Legend has it that the giant Nang Phanthurat disguised herself as a human and adopted Phra Sang as her son.

When he visited Nang Phanthurat’s secret chamber and discovered a mountain of animals and human bones, he realized that his mother was a monster. He was terrified, so he plunged into a gold pit and disguised himself as a negrito to hide his gold covered body before running off with a magic cane and glass shoes.

Khao Nang Phanthurat Forest Park takes its name from the famous Thai novel Phra Sang.

Khao Nang Phanthurat Forest Park has a 2.5 km trekking route that runs through the heart of the limestone hill.

Phra Sang refused to return home, despite a call from Nang Phanthurat. She died of unresolved anguish and Phra Sang cremated her here, which is why this mountain is known as Khao Phanthurat.

Along the hiking trail there are several scenic attractions that reflect the moments of tragedy and educate visitors about history and ecology. Plus, this park has long been a popular birding spot, with over 100 different bird species including the little green bee-eater, black-winged stilt, greylag swallow, and paddy pipit.

Visitors are greeted by a large family of domesticated monkeys, who accompany them to the sanctuary and crematorium of Nang Phanthurat through a 300m staircase in a lush setting.

This rocky land is surrounded by native plants like the Malay leafy spurge, cochineal nopal cactus, dracaena and santisukia, all of which are succulent, thorny, bushy, and have root systems linked to rocks, making them tolerant of Drought.

Here I visualized myself in a scene in which Nang Phanthurat cried until his death when his son Phra Sang refused to come down the hill and return home. Phra Sang organized a funeral for her mother to express her affection.

A bamboo grove is a popular scenic spot for tourists.

Thinking back on his life, I climbed and walked through the imposing 4m hole in the rock, which is considered the mystical mirror of Nang Phanthurat. According to legend, before meeting her son, a giantess pretended to be human and checked herself in the mirror to see if she still looked like a giant or if she still had blood on her after looking for wild animals.

Leaving his lodge, a winding rocky path on the other side leads visitors deeper into a mythical forest, where I discovered the sacred pond, where Phra Sang drowned in gold to pass himself off. for a negrito, who can fly and summon fish and animals.

After that, I felt that the journey was getting difficult, despite the fact that it was barely 300 meters from the gold pit. My muscles and my heart were strained as the terrain got steeper and more rugged.

I arrived at Larn Kueak Kaow, a shady courtyard that looks like a woman’s crystal shoe. Spread over three rai, it is covered with native plants such as ebony and hoptree. Its shape is reminiscent of a time when Phra Sang flew away after stealing magical items from Nang Phanthurat’s room.

Visitors to the viewpoint will be accompanied by a family of monkeys.

A little further away, a dense bamboo grove created a picturesque backdrop for tourists to pause and take selfies. With its stunning scenery, I took a few minutes to imagine how beautiful it would be when all the bamboo leaves turned yellow and covered the rocky path this winter.

I was sweating profusely as I walked up and down the steep rock maze to the vantage point, burning my energy. It is a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the fresh air while taking in the breathtaking 180 degree views of the lush landscapes, which was once a meeting point for elephants. Based on folklore, visitors can imagine Nang Phanthurat walking around with a stick in hand to hunt wild animals for meals.

Coming down to earth, I explored the historic site of Thung Setthi, just 900 meters from Khao Nang Phanthurat. It houses the ruins of a large brick stupa, which was erected during the Dvaravati period (11th to 16th centuries) at the foot of Khao Chom Prasat.

There are two stairs on the east and west sides. As its heyday collapsed, other exhumed objects such as Buddha statues, stucco architectural elements, sculptures of aliens and animals are currently kept in the Fine Arts Department. This land was once a maritime trading port and a transit point for merchants from China, India and Persia.

The beautiful view of the lush landscapes around the forest park.

According to legend, a rich man was carrying a pile of gold when his ox-cart broke down several times while passing through this neighborhood. He enlisted the help of locals to repair a vehicle, but his efforts were unsuccessful. Eventually he realized it was a trick to steal his gold, so he built this pagoda to keep them.

After sweating, I headed to the Uncle Thanom palm grove, located in the Ban Lat district, to recharge my mind with refreshing drinks and toddy palm sugar candies.

In 1992, former sub-district chief Thanom Phungoen planted 450 grog palms out of his 10-rai land to alleviate the floods and promote organic farming in the neighborhood. It is now in the hands of his son Amnat, who has made their orchard a learning center for those interested in eco-responsible tourism and local knowledge.

“Palmyra palms thrive in full sun, which makes them easy to care for. It is not necessary to use chemical fertilizers. They will bear fruit when they are 15 years old. The older they get, the more product they generate. All of their components are The fruit of the Toddy palm tree has been used in curries and desserts, while palm flesh from palm seeds has been used to feed the shoots as a natural fertilizer. Charcoal, herbal drinks and medicines are made from palm shells, ”Amnat said.

With a row of towering palm trees stretching as far as the eye can see, this site appears to be pleasant and calming when visitors are allowed to rest in a hammock or picnic in the lush courtyard. Amnat runs classes on how to grow and harvest toddy palms, as well as how to use their fruits to make organic products. Those who don’t have time to join a class can enjoy fresh grog palm juice, fresh out of the oven. kanom tan (yellow grog palm cake) and palm sugar, at prices ranging from 50 baht to 80 baht.

Amnat Phungeon has converted his grog palm farm into an organic farming learning center.

“They have a lifespan of up to 200 years. Toddy palm sugar is fragrant, sweet and delicate, which makes it ideal for healing the skin. Phetchaburi soil is rich in minerals, hence the fruits palm has a pleasant flavor. The longer they are cooked, the sweeter they are, ”said Amnat.

I ended the day at Wat Kamphaeng Laeng, which is located in Muang Phetchaburi district. Built of laterite, the ruined Khmer-style temple enclosure takes visitors back to the 13th century, when King Jayavarman VI extended his rule to Siam.

Behind the surrounding walls, this historic complex houses five former religious buildings, all listed as national monuments in 2004 by the Department of Fine Arts. This temple is believed to functioned until the end of the Ayutthaya period before being abandoned and restored as a Buddhist temple today.

During archaeological digs, the team unearthed ancient artifacts such as the beaming Avalokitesvara, Four-armed Avalokitesvara, Vajrasattva under the Naga shelter, Prajnaparamita, and a bridge railing with Garuda grabbing Naga. Currently, four ancient buildings are consecrated with sacred statues of Luang Pho Phet and Luang Pho Nile made from various materials and designs.

The viewpoint overlooks Khok Chang.

Khao Nang Phanthurat Forest Park is located in Cha-am District, Phetchaburi. It is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details, call (095) -761-0906.

Uncle Thanom’s grog palm plantation is in the Ban Lat district of Phetchaburi. It is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details call (087) -800 -7716 or visit the Suan Tan Lung Thanom (in Thai) page on Facebook.

Wat Kamphaeng Laeng is located on Phra Song Road, in Muang Phetchaburi district. It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thung Setthi Historic Site is home to a ruined brick stupa, which was erected during the Dvaravati period.

Four ruined historic buildings at Wat Kamphaeng Laeng are reminiscent of Bayon-style architectural art.

Four ruined historic buildings at Wat Kamphaeng Laeng are reminiscent of Bayon-style architectural art.

Khao Nang Phanthurat Forest Park has a 2.5 km trekking route that runs through the heart of the limestone hill.

The Golden Well of Phra Sang.

Amnat Phungoen.

The viewpoint overlooks Khok Chang.

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