Food Updates, some good, some not

Nang Rong has seen an explosion of restaurants and food outlets over the last few years. So many new places have opened that it’s hard to keep count but we’re trying our best to taste everything!!

Let’s start with the good.

White Cottage is a cafe style restaurant on the main road through Nang Rong. If heading towards Bangkok it’s just after Siam Commercial Bank, in the same side. It’s beautifully decorated and has a selection of coffee, shakes and some rather fabulous cheesecake. It’s reasonably priced and is a lovely place to sit and chat.

Just two slices of cheesecake!

Just two slices of cheesecake!

 

 

 

 

Comfy Chairs

Comfy Chairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Mania is aimed at a similar client base to White Cottage. It’s located within the PTT Station on the road to Pakham, about 5 minutes out of Nang Rong. They offer a good selection of cakes and drinks with birthday cakes of various sizes available.

ICE 33 is on the northern side of town, close to the main Police Station and the

Pizza at ICE 33

Pizza at ICE 33

Agricultural College. They offer a selection of food including some rather good pizzas and some delicious desserts. Service is good and it’s become a favorite with many local people.

 

 

 

 

In a previous post about fitness, we mentioned the new gym at SoFit. This also has a very good restaurant which offers mostly Thai food, at a reasonable price. It’s comfortable and friendly and a good place to chat with friends whilst eating.

On the other side of the coins are two restaurants which are struggling. I’m going to lump them together as, for the same reasons, I think they won’t be around too long.

Love (previously On The Way) and Overtime both have superb locations but are failing to attract customers. Both have tried promotions with beer, sexy girls and music. In my opinion, what they lack is edible food. I’ve eaten and both and, to be honest, I think they need to change their chefs. It’s a shame as I hope they succeed but, as a restaurant, your first priority should be the food!!

Dessert at ICE 33

Dessert at ICE 33

 

Some local places to stay (update)

Two places we haven’t looked at before in Nang Rong and one new resort out in the countryside.

As you drive around Nang Rong there seem to be ‘resorts’ appearing on a fairly regular basis and sometimes you drive past them without much thought. Below are two of these whose signs I have seen before but I’ve never viewed. This week I took the time to have a look.

Firstly, there is the RujNar Resort, located behind Nang Rong Hospital and opposite the new Nong Lee Market. They are 40 rooms, a mixture of twin and double rooms and the rooms are functional but not spectacular. They offer wifi and there is a restaurant onsite. They also have parking in front of every room. Prices start at B400 per night for a room with air conditioning. Double Room

Secondly there is the Smile Home Resort, a small site just a few minutes from the main Nang Rong Bus Station. They have eight room, some double bedded, some twin bedded. There is wifi too and prices start from B400 for a/c and B300 for a fan room. Rooms looked clean and comfortable but there is no restaurant. They offer bicycles and motorbikes for rent and this would be useful if staying here. The resort certainly looks bright with its multi-coloured rooms.

Smile Home Double Room

Smile Home Double Room

Smile Home Colourful Resort

Smile Home Colourful Resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, I went to view the recently opened Waterland Park and Resort, which is located about 10kms north of Nang Rong on the way to Buriram. I was intrigued by the name as there is a water park now in Prackonchai (30kms to the east of Nang Rong).

OK, it’s not exactly a water park but it has a large pool with a slide and a mushroom in the pool (!). It was opened this year by a Swiss/Thai couple and they’ve obviously invested a fair amount of money in building this. There a 5 regular rooms with a/c at B900/night and a family room at B1500. They have a rather nice bar and offer breakfast too. There is parking  at the resort and they staff were very friendly and chatty. The only problem I can see is the location. It’s great if you’re visiting friends close by but you’ll need to know how to find it!

Inside the Room

Inside the Room

The rooms

A well stocked bar

A well stocked bar

Mushroom in the Pool!

Mushroom in the Pool!

Have you ever visited these??

Have you ever visited some of the less well know Khmer Temples in Buriram Province. Most tourists head to Phanom Rung and Muang Tam, some venture to Wat Khao Angkarn but very few see more than those.

Located in Non Din Deang, the southern most part of Buriram Province in Prasart Nong Hong. It’s next to the reservoir know as Lam Nang Rong (which isn’t in Nang Rong so don’t be confused!). As you follow the track from the main road this Hindu Sanctuary is on the right hand side in the grounds of the local college and is not difficult to locate. It comprises of three brick towers on a laterite base, with all the towers facing east. It’s believed that this sanctuary was built in the 11th century as it’s constructed in the Baphuon style.

very atmospheric

very atmospheric

This is a small site but it makes for some great photographic opportunities and is free to visit. While you are here, continue to the reservoir at Lam Nang Rong and enjoy some fabulous food. In the hot season large numbers of locals come here to enjoy dining by the water as well as cooling off in the reservoir.

 

Twenty minutes north from here in Pa Kham, on the way to Nang Rong, we found the site of Prasart Khon Ngio (Ngiu). It’s signposted as you leave Pa Kham heading north. As you turn into the modern temple site look to the far right hand corner. If you find the monks’ accommodation then the temple site is hidden behind that!

Wander and climb all around

Wander and climb all around

It’s a small site with one main structure, built as a Mahayana Temple, with a square wall surrounding it and evidence of a small pond to one side. There are large numbers of rocks all around the outside which look like they were once numbered but you feel some more excavation work needs to be done. It’s officially a medical station, one of many built during the reign of King Jayaraman (1181-1218). Again, it’s a good place to climb around and take some photos.

Buriram United get a new coach

At the forefront of Thai football: Ghotbi leading Buriram into bright era

Many foreign residents of Thailand are familiar with the visa run to Malaysia. Afshin Ghotbi had barely arrived in the Land of Smiles before he was off to Kuala Lumpur.

It was the end of a hectic few days but a quick trip south gave the former Iran head coach time to absorb the fact that he is the now in charge of Buriram United, perhaps the biggest club in Southeast Asia.

“We will be challenging for trophies and every game we will play better football. Professional football is first about winning and then entertainment.”
– Ghotbi

Well, in charge as much as you can be in a club owned by Newin Chidchob, the former politician who relocated Provincial Electronic Authority to the north-east of Thailand in 2009 and then built a club, a stadium and a team that has won three of the last four Thai league titles.

So accustomed have United been to success that a dip in the league this season, and a dire performance in the group stage of the Asian Champions League, saw Brazilian Alexandre Gama leave after two largely successful years.

“I was very interested in Buriram’s story ever since I heard about the owner,” Ghotbi told FourFourTwo. “He has tremendous love for the club and the city and has the resources, both financial and political, to make this one of the best in Asia.”

 

Back to the top? Buriram have the ambition and the means to rule Asia again

Similarities abound

Ghotbi knows all about Asia. The 52-year-old, who left Iran in 1977 for California, where he started coaching, returned to the continent in 2001 to be part of Guus Hiddink’s coaching staff in South Korea.

After the success of the 2002 World Cup, he was back as an assistant to Dick Advocaat in 2005 and then Pim Verbeek a year later. In 2007, came the call from his homeland. At the end of his first season with Persepolis, he delivered a first league title to the Tehran giants in six years.

Our intention is to win everything domestically and then go the next stage and go where they have never been in the Asian Champions League.

– Ghotbi

Up next was a stint in charge of the Iranian national team and a last eight place in the 2011 Asian Cup after which he was off to Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan.

Ghotbi likens Thailand’s situation to Korea in 2001 with the country and its leading club ready to explode: “Professional football is growing and developing and I wanted to be part of that.  I have been impressed with the Thai players. They have open hearts and open minds and they want to do a job.”

image: http://images.cdn.fourfourtwo.com/sites/fourfourtwo.com/files/styles/inline-image/public/1_32_0.jpg?itok=1zftnJsL

Ghotbi’s immediate task is to salvage Buriram’s Thai Premier League season

There is plenty of work to do though this is a club still in the title race. After 44 league games without losing, Buriram tasted defeat twice in the space of three weeks in April and May and are eight points behind rivals Muangthong United.

The team has, Ghotbi feels, reached a plateau. “I saw half a dozen games before I said yes, I felt it had lost confidence, physically did not seem sharp enough and wasn’t tactically organised enough. I felt I could come and change things quickly, get a few good results and turn the season around.”

Room for expansion

A first game ended in a 1-0 win over Nakhon Ratchasima. More than most clubs in Asia, fans will expect more of the same. They are accustomed to success. Ghotbi is ready for the pressure.

“There was the same pressure in Persepolis. Buriram have fans in every city in Thailand. I welcome that expectation and it will bring the best out of me. I like pressure and I like to win.”

In Japan with Shimizu, the club often sold its best players. “One of the frustrating things at S-Pulse was that my ambition was greater than the club’s.”

There’s plenty of ambition at Buriram. “Our intention is to win everything domestically and then go the next stage and go where they have never been in the Asian Champions League,” he added. That would be going past the quarter-final reached in 2013.

image: http://images.cdn.fourfourtwo.com/sites/fourfourtwo.com/files/styles/inline-image/public/13233377_1044069155640740_1312529484_n_0_0.jpg?itok=D6Czwco9

After a difficult start, Buriram’s season is beginning to look up again

The return of injured star striker Diogo is expected soon and there will be more additions. “They have already decided what changes they will make in the transfer window. I will have to work with what is given to me. My approach is always first observe, then learn, listen, think and then try to find the solutions to improve the team. It is a step by step process.”

A winning mentality

Professional football is developing and I wanted to be part of that. I have been impressed with the Thai players. They have open hearts and open minds

– Ghotbi

It is certainly a challenge. “We will be challenging for trophies and every game we will play better football. Professional football is first about winning and then entertainment. My job is to create a team that, regardless of which player is available or not, sets a certain standard.

“I am impressed with the love the fans have for this club. I can feel how big this club is, it is massive. When you are outside, you don’t perhaps realise how big football is in Buriram and the owner can take the credit. He built something from nothing. He could have bought a club in Europe but invested in his own country and built something. That is an inspiration for everyone.”

“All over the world, coaches are judged by their last result, it is part of our industry and part of our job. We have to learn to live with it and welcome it. I enjoy the excitement that it brings. I am ready for the challenge.”

With thanks to www.fourfourtwo.com/my

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/my/features/forefront-thai-football-ghotbi-leading-buriram-bright-era#6dTYJGfcQHHZ3FhB.99

Time to get some exercise

If you live in Nang Rong or you’re here on a visit and you feel it’s time to get some exercise, then this is for you. We already know about the lake where you can take a walk around and the public swimming pools for a little recreation but now we also have something new.

Recently, a new gym and fitness centre has opened in Nang Rong and it’s got the funky name of the SoFit Fitness Centre. It has a fully equipped gym (with bikes, running machines and a whole lot more), a large outdoor pool, a studio for dance and exercise classes and a restaurant with a meeting area too. There are trainers available for all exercises and it’s open from 10.00 a.m. to late in the evening. Classes can be booked at the centre and if you want to attend on a certain day we recommend reserving your place.

Anyone for exercise?

Anyone for exercise?

It’s been open for a few months and offers a variety of membership packages, both monthly and yearly, depending on which facilities you need to use. Friends of ours who have been say it’s quite busy for classes in the evenings and if you’re a swimming fan, like me, and enjoy doing lengths of the pool then go in the morning as it’s virtually impossible in the evening. There are still some promotional offers for new members offering a trial and a taste of the healthy lifestyle.

Get fit, meet some friends and have a delicious meal afterwards in their lovely restaurant. There’s a good selection of healthy food (isn’t most Thai food healthy?) all at very reasonable prices.

(The centre has a Facebook page but I don’t suggest you use the map to find them. It’s a little out of place! Try calling the number and asking for directions.) It’s actually very close to the main traffic lights in the centre of town, of the north-west side.

The Car Park!

The Car Park!

When the weather gets warmer….

It appears that the latest craze in Southern Isaan is for Water Parks and so when the weather gets warmer, here are some ideas of where to cool off.

In Buriram Province, the Play La Ploen Boutique Resort has become established as a great place for families to spend a day, or longer, enjoying the multitude of activities on offer. Located about 35 kilometres north of Buriram Town on the road to Phutthaisong (just north of Khu Muang), the park offers a selection of adventure sports and water sports to keep kids and adults amused all day. There are activities for all ages and there is a hotel onsite too. Wall climbing and zip lining are just two choices and you can buy a ticket that includes everything or you can pay separately for each event. There is food and drink available onsite and there is even a hotel attached too.

A Fun Day Out

A Fun Day Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the same distance to the south of Buriram, the recently opened Siriya Park is a few kilometres to the west of Prakonchai Town, on the road to Nang Rong. It opened in 2015 and has a couple of pools and a choice of slides. Again, fun for all the family with food and drink available.

Closer to the town centre is the Water Play Park in Baan Yang, a few minutes out of town on the road to Satuk. Similar to Siriya, there are slides and two pools. There is also a shaded area for parents who would rather relax than enjoy the cool water. (I wonder if they could ban wifi here!).

Away from Buriram, there is a children’s water park open at The Mall in Korat. The pool is surprisingly large and features some long water slides and plenty of shade for the parents to hide under. I imagine that kids can play, assuming they’re able to swim, while the parents eat and shop.

Most recently opened is the water park at The Greenery Resort in Khao Yai (Nakon Ratchesima Province). This large water park has a huge wave pool, a great selection of slides and plenty of space to chill and watch everyone having fun. It opened in the last week of January 2016 and looks like being a huge hits with the tourists, both local and international. There is accommodation onsite and plenty of options around the area too.

Looks like fun!

Looks like fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you just wish to swim, of course there are some public pools around. Buriram Town has an Olympic size pool and Nang Rong has a public pool too. Most hotels will also let you make use of there pools for a small charge.

Enjoy the upcoming hot weather. Get some sun cream and have a fun day out.

 

Thai Football Season – The Final Stretch

The Thai football season is entering its final few months and as we approach the climax to the season we have the usual suspects battling for trophies and medals. In the Thai Premier League, it’s Buriram United level on points with their greatest rivals, Muang Thong United, but the team from northern Bangkok are leading on goal difference after an amazing weekend where both teams won 7-0! Chasing them in third place are Bangkok Glass but they are a distant 8 points behind and it’s looking very much like a two horse race now. Who is going to trip up first, we shall have to wait and see. Last year it went down to the final game and looks like it could do so again.

We are #GU12

We are #GU12

The Thai FA Cup is at the quarter final stage with the ‘Big 3’ of Chonburi, Muang Thong and Buriram all still involved although one will certainly disappear this week as Chonburi have the pick of the games with a home tie against Buriram.

The League Cup has reached the semi-final round with Buriram United yet again still chasing the trophy and yet again being drawn against a tough opponent in Army FC.

It could be another season where the team from Isaan win everything to they could end up with nothing. The next 3 months will show us the character of the boys from the Thunder Castle and nobody would be too surprised if they claimed at least two trophies, much to the dislike of the teams in Bangkok. What has been fun this year is the new rivalries growing. Buriram and Muang Thong have always been short on friendship but with Uncle Newin’s team meeting Bangkok Glass so many times in one year and BEC Tero upsetting a few people with their tactics, as well as Korat and Srisaket adding some healthy competition in Isaan it’s shaping up to be a great final few months.

The Candle Festival

Wan Khao Pan-Sa (วันเข้าพรรษา) is the start of the Buddhist Lent period which runs for three months. Associated with it is a festival of Candle Making, the traditions of which are explained here.

In Nang Rong there is a parade which floats and music. Some of the highlights are featured below.

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doing it 'Old School'

doing it ‘Old School’

 

Football News

Starting last weekend (18/7) Buriram United have a run of games that could make the difference in this being a great season instead of just a normal, win something, season.

That's what we think.

That’s what we think.

Thai Premier League games at home to BEC Tero and our greatest rivals, the dreaded Muang Thing (sic) United plus away games at Saraburi and Srisaket should bring maximum points and we should certainly being aiming for nothing less.

We also have an away Toyota League Cup game at our most recent major rivals, Bangkok Glass (22/7) which should have a little

maxresdefaultadded spice after the league game at our place last week which resulted in two players receiving bans and just a little bad feeling.

Finally on the 29th July we have an FA Cup tie with Nakon Ratchasima, our most local rivals which is also a repeat of a recent league game, albeit it at the mighty Thunder Castle this time.

There’s no reason why we can’t win every one of these games and set ourselves nicely for a strong second half of the season.

Let’s support the team as always and cheer extra loudly for the next few weeks. This could be a defining few weeks for us.

#GU12

Wat Khao Phra Angkarn

วัดเขาอังคาร or the Temple of Mars Mountain (literally) 

Perched on a small hill, about the same height as it’s big brother at Phanom Rung, sits this quite strange but enchanting temple. I’ve read many stories about its purpose but it appears more shrouded in myth than seems possible. It’s a newly built temple on an ancient sacred site and built in an old style.

Exiting Nang Rong on the way here, there is a lonely sign post hidden in a small village. If you don’t have Google Maps or an amazing sense of adventure and incredible sense of direction then you may struggle to find your way! Down a nondescript side street, through endless brown fields waiting for their crops and the life giving rains that should come soon, along a tree lined dirt track that reminds you of someplace in Belgium, you finally reach a small crossroads where there is another sign, very handily written in Thai, pointing you the way. It’s a little disorientating because although you’re in the middle of traditional Buriram farming country, where the smell of buffalo poo and durian waft into your nostrils, every 100 metres you encounter a 16 wheeler truck. It’s as if you’ve inadvertently stumbled into a Colombian drug cartel’s manufacturing plant. Of course, that would be crazy but, in fact, just down the road there is a quarry and a factory producing gravel and stones to be sold at some distant place. This has a plus side and a down side. The plus is that the tracks are well used and passable at this time of year, in the dry season. The down side is the sheer amount of infernal dust that is thrown into the air both from the crushing process and the monstrous lorries.

That explains the dust

That explains the dust

Passing this rather surprising place, the track continues and ahead there is a hillock which, surely, must be the location of our temple. (It’s really an extinct volcano.) Five minutes later, after a winding climb, you’re at the summit, faced by a 20 metre long, golden Buddha, in his best “I’m lying down and relaxing” pose.

Just take a 5 minute nap

Just take a 5 minute nap

The site is very compact and is free to enter. There are many wonderful small statues dotted around and it’s a good idea just to wander amongst the trees looking for lost treasures, whether they be an upright Buddha staring at you from a clearing or a small shrine slowly being overgrown by the creepers. It’s a peaceful place, the quiet only broken by the glorious sounds of birds chattering away (or the occasional motor bike revving it’s engine as it parks) and the melodious rhythm of the monks chanting their prayers.

The Chocolate Temple

The Chocolate Temple

The main attraction is the sepia coloured temple that stands as high as a 3 storey building. The choice of colour is rare as most Thai temples are white but this is one of the great things that makes it unique. Inside there are some murals which are in a sad state of decay, telling the tale of Rama (I think) and his journey across India in search of Sita. In fact, with the outer walls looking like they’re covered in chocolate, there is a similarity to some of the old Indian forts. Surrounding the base of the temple are dozens of small statues resplendent in their orange robes, all looking to the distance wary of the marauding forces approaching from all sides. On top of the temple are some fabulously carved towers with intricately designed scenes (from where I don’t know). On closer inspection there are also hundreds of small Buddha figurines sitting in their pose, looking serene as always.

It’s worth taking some time to stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere here. I would suggest a visit as part of a day trip to include Non Din Daeng also. Keep Phanon Rung and Muang Tam for a new day.

Stroll Around

Stroll Around