Author Topic: Wang Nam Kheow  (Read 2162 times)

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Offline Baby Farts

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Wang Nam Kheow
« on: December 25, 2009, 08:18:21 AM »
I really love this place.  It's about 45 minutes out of Korat on the way to Pak Thong Chai.  I stayed at a resort named "Hill Hut Camping."  We stayed in the house pictured below and it was absolutely amazing.  Being surrounded by mountains and waking up in the early morning to the fresh air is exhilarating. 

 

Offline Baby Farts

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Re: Wang Nam Kheow
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2009, 08:20:25 AM »
More pics

 

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Re: Wang Nam Kheow
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2009, 08:22:46 AM »
Part 3


 

Offline Johnnie F.

Re: Wang Nam Kheow
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2010, 08:21:03 AM »
Wheeling around in Wang Nam Kheow

Reaching the crest of the final hill, we stop for a moment and gaze down at the seemingly endless patchwork of crops and green fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. Here and there, local roads twist their way through the rolling terrain. The air smells surprisingly sweet, a mixture of damp earth and young plants.


"This is Tuscany," I think just for a moment, until the voices of construction workers exchanging a joke in the Isaan dialect interrupts my reverie.


We're not in Tuscany, of course. We're not even close to central Italy, in fact, but in Wang Nam Kheow subdistrict of Nakhon Ratchasima province, on a cycling weekend.


Neung, a new member of Park Bike, as our bike and beer cycling club is known, has just acquired a Gary Fisher mountain bike and he's dying to give it a try. Wang Nam Kheow, a small valley with rolling hills, muddy tracks and beautiful countryside, is the ideal place to test both Neung's stamina and the bike. The plan is simple. We load our mountain bikes into a Mitsubishi Tritan and drive off into the gathering clouds.


Tucked away in the south of Nakhon Ratchasima province, the tiny town of Wang Nam Kheow is about 250 kilometres from Bangkok. Enclosed by high ridges to the east, west and south, Wang Nam Kheow resembles a small crescent tucked away in a fertile valley.


The Village Farm, a domestic winery, planted its vines a little more than 10 years ago, and today produces three Frenchstyle wines under the Chateau des Brumes label and two others under the Village Cellar brand. Wang Nam Kheow is also becoming a poster child for the agrotourism, with rich citydwellers buying up land to grow flowers, mushrooms and vegetables.


Weekenders too have discovered Wang Nam Kheow with many urban folk driving up from Bangkok for a quick dose of the countryside. Some have even purchased plots of land and built their own vacation villas.


And the town is also a launch PAD for bikers, with hundreds of kilometres of potential trails varying from slick to muddy tracks and from heady downhill trails to lung-burning climbs.


"In Wang Nam Kheow, you can almost ride everywhere you can see, which means some pretty raw as well as epic scenery," notes Pramuan, who's known as "Mo the thoughtful" to the Park Bike members. He owns a plot of land in Wang Nam Kheow and wants to retire in the valley and farm. "Most of the trails are unknown to mountain bikers. Only the locals know them," he adds.


On day one, we set off at 7 from the base of Phaeng Ma hill, keen to get some kilometres under our belts before it gets too hot. The first hour is glorious. We speed along deserted roads past cornfields, seedless grape farms and fields of young tomato plants laid out in perfect rows. The morning mist hangs in the woods lit up by shafts of sunlight.


We leave the main road behind and start climbing the dirt track into the hills. Sweat drips from Nueng's forehead onto the handlebars but he tries hard to laugh it off. Uphill cycling is probably too much, too soon for a relative novice like him.


"A routine job in a sound editing studio has made me weak," says the retired guitarist, who owns the Lat Phrao studio, explaining his lack of exercise, when we arrive at the top of the hill.


"Come on, Nueng. You'll give Gary Fisher a bad name. Our bikes are made for climbing," I say teasingly.


In fact, cycling is one of the toughest sports and mountain biking is its toughest discipline. Crashes are common and if you're afraid of the dentist, mountain biking is a perfect alternative for losing your front teeth. As we whiz down the dirt path, we hear cries of, "Out! Out of my way. I'm out of control."


And just like the carefree surf dudes of the 1960s moved from one beach to another in search of the perfect waves, we horse around Wang Nam Kheow looking for the perfect trails.


On day two, we head to the eastern edge of Wang Nam Kheow, where the Khao Luang mountain range forms a distant backdrop to endless fields of corn.


"There's the Khon Jon waterfall as well as countless paths through the cornfields that you can get lost in," says Sanid, a Jeep enthusiast and the owner of a resort that has no name, when we ask him to recommend a trail.


"Khon Jon", which translates as "superbad bandit", may seem a strange for a natural attraction like a waterfall but it's surprisingly apt. Fifty years ago, Wang Nam Kheow was all dense forest and part of Khao Yai National Park but then the logging industry came in and legally denuded the hills. Poor farmers, together with a mixed bag of criminal types on the run, came in and occupied the deforested land 30 years ago. Now it's the rich citydwellers, fantasising about the romance of rural life, who are transforming Wang Nam Kheow and putting it on the tourist map.


We cycle through a small village just as the local villagers are starting their daily routine. A few nasty dogs chase us down the dirt trail but soon we are alongside the river, where we stop to make friends with the fishermen.


We can hear the water cascading, as we whiz down the single thorny track that twists through the bamboo forest but we cannot find the waterfall with a bad name. Mo's bike is broken, and we have to backtrack to our cottage.


Two days in Wang Nam Kheow is quite an experience and as we enjoy a beer at Sanid's resort, it becomes clear that some of my fellow bikers are getting bitten by the countryside bug.


"I want to put up a rustic cottage here for our cycling weekends," says Diaw. "Anyone want to chip in?"

The Nation
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