Another destination of my one day trips from Udon Thani (despite Palio) was Sai Ngam. Also located in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) it is a quite spiritual and naturally impressive place. It is located close to the famous sanctuary of Phimai and offers a quite interesting view and possibility to relax and catch your breath for a short while.
At first it looks quite strange when you approach this different kind of sight and many tourists didn’t quite know what to do. But when you figured out that you actually can enter this strange environmental surrounding it is quite nice to walk around and spend some time over (or actually down) there.
Sai Ngam (Banyan Tree) in Korat is said to be the largest one in Thailand and is biologically spoken part of the Ficus Benghalensis family, not a Ficus Benjamina as written on the information board at the site. While this species of Fig Trees is sacred in Hinduism its close relative the Ficus Religiosa or the Bodhi Tree is sacred to Buddhists (Lord Buddha reached enlightenment sitting in the shade below such a tree). Such trees are always full of spirits and wisdom according to Thai beliefs.
According to the information board in Sai Ngam the tree covers an area of about 3’250 square metres and it is over 350 years old.
For the biology fans amongst you, this is what I found about Banyan Tress in the world wide web:
Banyan Trees reproduce themselves by ten-drils which reach the floor from the branches of the tree and take root to become secondary trunks. The new trunks stay connected to the parent tree, forming one tree with many trunks. In a few years a single Banyan Tree can form a small forest, like the one at Phimai. It is the symbol of eternal rebirth, the eternity of the world. The God Krishna says: I am the spirit, the beginning, the midst and the end of the creation, I am like the Banyan among the trees.
Oh and by the way: Do not eat anything of those trees. You can suffer from stomach problems to anything up to death.
Besides the already described fascinating nature (and praying possibilities right there) Sai Ngam also offers a quite nice and modern ‘spiritual house’ where you can pray (wai). Furthermore also the surrounding outside the swamp like area is very nice and relaxing with some more possibilities to forget about the hectic city life for quite a while.
While it is quite a ride from Udon Thani to Sai Ngam I consider it worth a trip. Especially if you combine it with a trip to the very close Phimai sanctuary this can be the destination for a nice one day trip within the North-Eastern (Isan) part of Thailand. So if you are about to spend some time over here in the North-East, check out Korat and some of its beautiful and different sights.