The Grand Canyon of Thailand & Border Crossing
21.04.2013 36 °C
Apart from celebrating the Songkran Festival in Ubon Ratchathani, I also visited one of the most interesting sites in the Isaan region in Thailand in Ubon, dubbed the Grand Canyon of Thailand, Sam Phan Bok or 3000 Holes in english. I had previously visited other great sites within Ubon including the Pha Taem National Park. To recap, Pha Taem National Park is a area overlooking the marvelous and scenic Mekong river, which borders the Lao PDR. Over at Pha Taem, visitors will get to view Mekong river from the cliffs where trekking under the cliffs, one would able to witnessed multiple drawings of pictures resembled several animals along the wall of the cliffs. It was believed that these paintings were dated about 4000 years ago during pre-historic age. Apart from the great cliffs, other interesting spots include the Sao Chaliang (Stone Towers). What is interesting over at Sao Chaliang is that visitors will be able to witness the strange formations of rocks where some of them resting firmly horizontally on vertical shape rocks, resembling a stone tower. Other interesting sightings over at Sao Chaliang include the surface and texture of the land, sands and shell fossils which led geologists to believe that the area was once a sea. Other interesting sites in Ubon that I previously visited the bicolour river (Mae Nam Song Si) over at Kong Chiam. What resulted the 2 different colours in the river water was due to the Mun River in Kong Chiam that join into the Mekong River, bordering Thailand and Lao PDR.
Sam Phan Bok is yet another amazing sites in Ubon Rachathani as well one of the many wonders of Thailand. Just as great as the Pha Taem National Park, Sam Phan Bok's uniqueness which have been distinctive by itself is the formations of over thousands, possibly up to over 3000 holes on the on the surface of its rocky & rough land base, where large number of these holes are covered in water from the river below the cliffs. Due to dry season, some of the water have dry up. The size of these holes vary in sizes with some as huge as a pool and some even look like a lake formations. The cliffs heights is up to 19 metres in height at one point and the river water would filled up over 19 metres during the rainy season, which would cover the holes which formed on the surface of the land of the cliffs.
To get to the cliff area, only certain vehicles such as pick-up trucks and SUVs would be able to drive through the extreme soft land surface filled with powdery sands. Converted pick-up trucks into "songtheaw" (long bench taxi), are available to transport visitors from the main entrance of Sam Phan Bok. One can either take a tour of Sam Phan Bok once reached the main area of the cliffs, which have uneven land base heights. The area which the cliffs covered with the holes are quite massive in size and taking a tour on the cliffs to view the different shapes and sizes of the holes as well as the great river view may take a toll due to the hot weather. However, for those who are adventurous, this is one of the rewarding experience as the views weird natural transformation taking place along the cliffs of the river are simply amazing.
Taking a tour on the boat would be best to see by oneself's eyes on the textures of the cliffs, which are being formed by several layers of horizontal shape rocks in different shapes, sizes and thickness. As I toured the river I could also witnessed on the different level of heights of the cliffs with the highest marked at 19 metres. There were also formations of beach look alike area on the river due to low laying areas with soft and powdery sands surfaced due to low river water level as well as the cliffs' heights being on the low levels. The river water seen flowing calmly at most part of the river but could also face strong currents at some other parts of it. Sam Phan Bok is also dubbed the Grand Canyon of the East due to views from the highest point of cliffs area which provide overall landscape outlook which resembled a grand canyon. Apart from the thousands of holes formed on the surface of the land base of the cliffs, other amazing landscapes at Sam Phan Bok include massive open areas within the cliffs which are being filled with scattered rocks in various shapes and sizes. Some of the rocks appear with weird transformation of various objects.
I also took the opportunity to cross over from Thailand via Surin province in Chong Jom to Cambodia via Osmach. Basically, I did not venture further from Osmach town in Cambodia, which can get one to Siem Reap. But it was an experience to get to see what is there available to do and see in this border towns between Thailand and Cambodia. There are a huge market or bazaar near this border area of both countries. On the Thai side, the market is larger than the one in Osmach and there are many used folded bicycles shops available in Chong Jom market. Other products include the household items, shoes, hand phones, and textiles items. Over in Osmach, what draws people here is basically the 2 casinos cum hotel resorts which cater mainly to Thai customers. The 2 resort casinos in Osmach are Royal Hill Resort & Osmach Resort. There are also duty free shops availabe in these 2 resorts which have liquor, beers, cigarettes and chocolates sold at dicounted price due to tax exemptions.There is a Osmach market to cater for visitors from Thailand as well as the casinos customers stopping by to do some shopping. Foreigners travel to Chang Jom/Osmach are basically to travel to/from Siem Reap.