I might be stating the obvious, but there are no beaches in Buriram, there are no “Go Go Bars,” and the nightlife is nothing compared to the party towns of Pattaya, Phuket, and Bangkok. The heartland of Thailand’s sleepy Issan region (north-east Thailand) beats to a rhythm of its own, a rhythm not affected by tourism, but a rhythm of culture and agriculture. This leads us to the question, what is there to do in Buriram?
I don’t visit Buriram as a tourist, but I do appreciate the glimpses of Thai culture, everyday Thai life, and many aspects of life in Thailand that I would not otherwise see. Much of my time is spent in a state of curious bemusement, brought on by sitting in isolation as I watch my wife feasting with her family. I call this state “Bored in Buriram”. It’s just a case of having nothing to do, watching others do things you don’t understand, wanting something to do, and ultimately waiting for something to happen.
When it happens, it usually happens spontaneously, or should I say, “I’m the only one who didn’t know it was going to happen”. On New Year’s Eve, my state of bemused curiosity was broken by the death of a pig, resulting in a photo opportunity both lost and gained, I declined the opportunity to capture the moment of death on camera, but I waited until the ghastly deed was done before acquiring a few photos of the body being hacked to pieces carcass being butchered (see photo above).
Staying with the theme of life and death Buriram, I was so deep in my state of “bemused curiosity” when 2 cockerels appeared in the yard. I was trying to work out why they were both wearing gloves. And the answer is, they were Fighting Cocks. Before I could say, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to see Chicken Boxing,” they were at it tooth and nail, or should that be “beak and spur”. Anyway, no death today, just a little bloodsport, and another unique photo opportunity. I should add that Cock Fighting is still legal in Thailand, I should add that I’m not a fan of bloodsports, and I should also inform you that these 2 birds were merely sparring. This was not an organized fight. And before anyone screams “animal rights”, please read Thai Fighting Cocks first.
There are other things to do in Buriram, besides watching bloodsports and pigs being butchered. You can focus your bemused curiosity on some architectural culture. Phanom Rung Historical Park is about an hour’s drive from Buriram; it’s ancient, and it’s a Hindu temple. In fact, it is the best preserved ancient Hindu temple in Thailand.
There’s a Cultural Centre in Buriram, where they have a collection of old artifacts, including the elephant skeleton (photo above), old Thai coins, porcelain, Thai hunting tools dating back to the stone and bronze ages, and examples of Issan architecture through the ages.
If there is a town or city in Thailand that has a hill within it’s proximity, you can be assured there will be a Big Buddha on the summit; Buriram is no different. The Khao Kradong Buddha (see photo above) has a commanding position overlooking Buriram, one of the most impressive features is the Naga Stairway leading up one side of the hill.
Most of the provincial capitals of Thailand have a City Pillar (Lak Mueang). This is where the Guardian Spirit of the city resides. The Buriram City Pillar Shrine is built in the same style as Phanom Rung Temple.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to be “bored in Buriram” this visit, that I would venture out on the streets, wander lonely as a cloud that floats on high over paddy fields, camera in hand, to shoot and capture the life that so abounds. I never managed to wander lonely as a cloud, but photo opportunities, like everything else, were spontaneous. Pops was going fishing (photo above); I’ve seen some fantastic photos of Thai fishermen throwing their nets onto the water, so here’s my chance.
Pops was luckless, and so was I, no fish, no good photos, and no good photos of fish, “that’s life”.
I reckon if I didn’t have my camera with me, I would have gone hopping mad.
I believe there is such a thing as tempting fate; this chicken (photo above) obviously doesn’t share my concern.
Don’t know why I included the photo of this dog, except it was in Buriram, and so was I; I was in a bemused state of curiosity, usually reserved for my visits to Buriram. He was in a state of neglect, which is all too common throughout Thailand. Soi dogs are nothing to do with culture or Buddhism, or are they?
Have you ever wondered what “bemused curiosity” looks like? Take a look at the photo above; I promise it’s not a self-portrait. Actually, I think he’s quite drunk; I took this photo during a Monks ordination festivities. One of the rituals includes walking 3 times around the village. The walk often turns into a dance, aided and abetted by alcohol.
After the work is done, sometimes before the work is done, actually quite often no work is done at all, but leisure time is filled by having fun and playing games.
You don’t have to be bored in Buriram, and there’s no need to fall into a state of “bemused curiosity”. Buriram is a city rich with culture and heritage, now is the time to take your camera and capture rural Thailand, traditional Thai houses, paddy fields, buffaloes, iron buffaloes, markets, and extraordinary characters, there are some wonderful photo opportunities waiting for you.
More things to do in Buriram.
- I suggest you visit Khao Lak Chang Bat Cave, on the way back.
- Go to Thunder Castle and watch Buriram United Football Club.