laem sai, chaiya district

Chasing Around Chaiya…

Monday morning last week the sun was shining so I headed north. Not too far. A couple of hours to the northern part of Surat Thani Province. Chaiya District to be precise, which is actually quite large.

chaiya grand canyon
I’d planned I think it was nine places to visit, but sort-of added one more on the way. I realized I was driving past something that used to be called The Chaiya Grand Canyon. There’s an article about it here. I decided to take another look.

I needn’t have bothered. The signs have gone, and it now looks like a disused mining pool. Come to think of it, it always did.

So I tootled on to my first intended destination…

Wat Rattanaram, Chaiya.

Interesting place. Not my first visit, but I wanted to get an aerial shot showing the remains of the several hundred year old Khmer-style temple along with the rather newer ubosot…

wat ratthanaram, chaiya

Mission accomplished I headed out towards the sea, but stopped first at…

Wat Champha, Chaiya.

wat champa, chaiya

I quickly decided this was not a drone-flying place, but took a long look at the wooden vihara which was built without nails some 300 years ago. I checked carefully to see if I could catch them out, but no, it seems to be nailless!

wat champa, chaiya

wat champa, chaiya

The exterior features some sandstone carvings either side of the doors. Not overly exciting, but worth putting on a face mask to go look.

wat champa, chaiya

Laem Pho, Chaiya District.

So, on to the sea. I took the bypass around the town of Ban Phum Riang, best known for it’s silk weaving (article here) and reached the sea at Laem Pho. “Laem” is the Thai word for long sticky-out bit of land. I normally associate these with the sea on both sides, but in this case there’s a river to the east and the sea to the west, with a bridge crossing the river. See?…

laem sai, chaiya district

In the middle of the above picture you can see the end of the long sticky-out bit, which has been turned into a really nice public park. I’m not sure where people come from to enjoy it, because Chaiya District is a small place not really near anywhere, except perhaps Surat Thani, which is an hour away. On my visit it was deserted – because it’s closed – due to Covid. Drones don’t care about such things…

laem sai, chaiya district

laem sai, chaiya district

Nice place I thought. I’d visit again if I had a dog and a frisbee, but I have neither, so I probably won’t.

Laem Thong, Chaiya District.

Five minutes northeast of there is another … wait for it … long sticky-out bit of land. Google Maps doesn’t actually tell me the name of this one, but it does have a place called Laem Thong Seafood Resort, so I’m guessing it’s Laem Thong. Seems reasonable. And this one does have the sea on both sides.

It’s actually at the end of a huge bay that sweeps all the way around to the north of Surat Thani town and continues east. Google Maps tells me it’s about 30kms across the mouth of the bay.

Anyhoo, I drove about two-thirds of the way down the sticky-out bit before running out of road. Well, I ran out of the one-lane concrete part, and due to recent rains the gravel part looked downright dodgy. At least, without all-terrain tires (coming soon.) With more than one kilometer left, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to see the end. So I asked Maxie to go up an assess the situation…

He decided that despite the swirling winds that seemed to be coming from every direction at the same time, he could head down there to get photographs. I decided that was almost as good as being there…

laem thong, chaiya district

laem thong, chaiya district

laem thong, chaiya district

Next, I found a nice spot for a picnic lunch…

laem sai, chaiya district

…and then tootled northwest up to Tha Chana.

The afternoon wasn’t as successful as the morning. I realize now that my trip notes were one page and a bit. I visited all the places on the “one page” but forgot about “the bit.” I only missed one place. Next time.

And when I arrived at Wat Witchit Dithatharam in Tha Chana I noticed it was overrun with wild monkeys and wild dogs. Not my favorite creatures. However; just as I’d decided I wasn’t even going to get out of my truck, and was looking for a place to park where at least the monkeys wouldn’t start ripping parts off Bert, a man arrived on a motorbike. Brave man, I thought, as the monkeys and dogs started chasing him. But, it turns out he was a kind of Pied Piper, and they all disappeared to the back of the temple, where he proceeded to feed the lot of them.

At least I could get out of my truck.

The place, to my mind, only has one important feature. A large golden Buddha statue high up in the hills. Something a drone would be able to photograph to great effect. However: I’d picked the wrong time of day. All the rocks were in bright sunlight and the statue in the shade. Not the best combination for great photos. Then I noticed umpteen cables running up the hillside to the statue. Maybe he’s a kind of eBuddha and glows in the dark.

Anyways, I decided the combination of the shade, the hard to see cables, and the possible return of the jungle creatures wasn’t conducive to drone flying. So I headed home.

But; before all this happened, I’d stopped at…

Wat Tham Yai, Tha Chana.

wat tham yai

Another repeat visit. Again, to get aerial shots. But I really like this place. It’s attractive at ground level or in the air.

And, behind the main building there’s yet another golden Buddha – at ground level, not stuck up in the hills. Talking of hills, you may notice there’s a big one behind the wat.

Drone fliers have to beware of these as they block as many as 50% of the GPS satellite signals. Even worse, the hills can reflect the signals giving a false reading. I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to execute an auto RTH (return to home) and I was pretty right.

Here’s some other pics…

wat tham yai

wat tham yai

wat tham yai

You may notice there are workers a-working, slowly. On my last visit several years ago he was a naked Buddha, so progress is being made. But I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to see it finished.

wat tham yai

And a final note … see …nowhere near the landing pad.


...has been travelling the world for more than sixty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more.

He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Drones, Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way.

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