This past weekend, Abby and I finally made it to Thailand. “Now, wait,” you might say, “aren’t you already in Thailand?” In the sense that we live in Bangkok, we also are in Thailand, but in another sense, we’re not.

Bangkok. Thailand.

We went to Kanchanaburi, in the western part of the country. Kanchanaburi is the home of the bridge over the River Kwai, which I’ll get to later; for now, we’ll look at other things to see in Kanchanaburi.

The area has many temples that are tourist attractions as well as religious sites. First we visited Wat Ban Tham. Entrance is made via the mouth of an enormous dragon, which I found – close up – to be a little reminiscent of a Rankin/Bass character.

Once you get through the dragon’s mouth and then climb a little further, you come to the temple, inside a cave. There is a beautiful Buddha statue inside, as well as a monk who will bless you if you ask, although he seemed a little disengaged when we were there. Then at the top there is another stupa which is undergoing some renovation work.

Anyone who wants to say that this is “stupendous” can stop reading right now.

The next temple is Wat Tham Sua, which is intriguingly visible from the road:

There was another climb, which opened onto an 18-meter high statue of the Buddha.

An idea of the scale.

The temple has other beautiful buildings as well, with fascinating sculptural details (and bells).

On a quieter note, Sino-Thai graves and Buddhist stupas: