Spread over an area of approximately 3,500 km² the Rayong province is a soothing blend of nature, urbanization and rich culture. I loved the vastness of the place because of the endless possibilities that I could be getting myself into. As I had been traveling over smaller spots, they had the disadvantage of having a limited amount of traditional culture packed into them.
As the culture junkie that I am, I love a spot with versatility. With the extensive expanse of Rayong, I got to see a lot of different places, taste so many varying dishes and meet the most interesting people in my life. So, come and let me retell you the story and take you on the journey with me:
In Honor of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Princess Garden was built in 1984 and later on transferred in her name for the main reason of preserving the history and life of herbs. There are over 120,000 tulips in the garden apart from the other gorgeous array of flowers planted there. My personal favorite was the sea of daffodils that decked one side of the park. Although I couldn’t pluck one and take it home with me, there was a flower market just outside the garden and I could get a few memoirs of the place from there. I actually went twice to the garden as the first time I went to visit, I made the foolish decision to go on a Sunday. Usually the busiest days there are Sundays so I couldn’t quite benefit from the calm and peace of the place. My second trip was on a Thursday as I planned it and this time I decided to take one of the guided cars available. The guide was pretty versed on all the garden held and recited each word with careful English that I found very touching seeing as the country doesn’t really speak much English nor do I speak much Thai.
It was a wonderful way and time for me to connect deeply with nature and just be one with Her. The place also works great if you want to do a photoshoot. Of course not professional ones, but I found the place highly appealing and perfect for selfies and using the daffodils as the background was the perfect way to wow my Instagram audience.
If you have never visited this temple at least once when staying in Rayong, then have you ever visited Rayong? The oldest temple is Wat Khodtimtaram and it was built in the year of – drumroll, please – 1464! Yes, folks, you heard me. Walking into the place felt like stepping on a time traveler’s watch! It was a positively surreal experience for me. The temple keeper (who I think must have lived as long as the temple too) was like a chest of knowledge. He spoke to me (I showed interest) at length about the history of the temple and how it was founded in the Ayutthaya Period. He also went ahead and showed us every painting that was etched in the temple, describing the painter and the emotion held by the paintings. I have been to more than 2 other religious sites in Rayong, more specifically: Wat Saranat Thammaram and the Somdet Krommaluang Chumphon Shrine. But none encompasses the sheer peace, sacredness of this specific temple. Maybe it has to do with the temple’s age, just like an old tree just looks serene and powerful in itself. There were also life-size Buddha statues placed in front of prayer mats in the humble and bare interior of the temple. The wizened keeper advised that I make a prayer for my loved ones, family, and friends as the more sacred a temple; the better possibility of your prayers being answered.
Before I embarked on the trip to Rayong I remember when of my colleagues at the firm mentioned a peculiar fruit market that existed there. As he previously visited the province, he knew of its special spots and as the natural produce lover that I am, I went for it. The peculiar fruit market is actually part of the big Ko Kloi Floating Market in Amphoe Mueang Rayong. It is a marketplace but with a unique twist. Instead of walking around lugging your shopping, this place helps out and gives you a boat to float in. Simply place all your shopping in the boat and forget about window shopping. Next time when any of my friends boasts about window shopping, I’ve got a better card. Lake shopping. The floating market is a big one and one that brought me dining areas, jolly spots where live music blares on for long whiles to keep me company while I’m shopping and best of all; some good fish feeding sport. After I lake shopped for a while and checked out some of the cool souvenir shops there, I was allowed to feed a fleet of fish from a small height above the ground. Altogether a completely different and unique shopping experience. I mean, I have experienced window shopping, online shopping, and way many more methods but I must say nothing beats lake shopping with some fish feeding action!
Golfing has never been a number 1 sport/activity I have been trying out in every place I visit. But Rayong actually made me consider this as an option at the next province/district/city I make a stop at. Thanks to its versatile culture and huge terrains, there are a bunch of golf fields up there. My top favorite was, of course, the Eastern Star Golf Course. The 18-hole course which was originally constructed and planned in 1992 comes with its own swimming pool and tennis court. Measuring a total of 6,100 yards the overall bird view planning of the place was effective and clever. Neat and to the point there are no distractions for miles around. The golf course makes for a peaceful and well-spent day out in Rayong and time passes with quality and class if you have friends with you.
Saving the best for last, the Rayong zip line is one for the books. It will steal your breath, your heart and most probably anything that is in your hands too. As I was being buckled into the seats, I remember having my phone out and positively brandishing it in the air trying to take in and record the beautiful surroundings. However, I happened to lose the phone as I was capturing a Boomerang for my Instagram. Truly a memory for the books! Legend has it that this zip line used to be the longest one in the entire of Asia until the one in the Philippines took its space and now is all the hot talk. The lines measure up to 3 kilometers and as you whistle along with them you are surrounded by gorgeous greenery on either side. Hillsides and wild jungle life springs about from all sides around the zip line. As someone who absolutely loves heights and elevated spaces, there was a fair amount of giddiness in my heart when I started off the journey. So I wouldn’t advise it at all for anyone who has a fear of heights. The journey is longer than expected because of the super long zip lines.
Just because I absolutely love temples and the religious sacredness they hold, the Wat Pa Pradu holds a special place in my heart for that exact reason. It is a temple just like the others I have mentioned before but this one stands out because of the peculiar yet highly exceptional nature of it. The hugest thing (literally) that attracted me to this temple was the reclining Buddha statue that takes up almost 12 meters in length. As it is reclining and lying on the ground its height is actually around 4 meters which is huge judging by how it is literally lying down on its side. Draped in decorative gold leaves the presence of the statue is revered through its size and the care is taken for it to stay looking optimum.
There is an old saying and belief in the area that walking around the statue 4 to 9 times is said to bring you good luck so if you find a bunch of circling folks, just leave them be! They are trying to find some smidgen of good luck for themselves. When I first heard of the ridiculous belief, I ignored it. But later my curiosity was peaked and I decided to also circle around the statue. Sounds weird, but I did find a couple of currency notes on the ground near the foot of the statue. That was good luck alright but for good measure, I did not pocket them and instead handed them over to the first homeless I could find after leaving the temple. Needless to say, it was a cleansing experience that I found similar but not alike to my visit to the Wat Khodtimtaram. The place was established more than 400 years ago which also added to my love and appreciation for it. I’m just a sucker for the vintage things!