Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pattaya Thailand Trip, Million Year Stone Park, a MUST SEE

With Don and I good to go on our Thai drivers licenses it was time to do our first expedition with our 7 person group from the Philippines. We consisted of three couples along with my stepdaughter, Janine, her being the proverbial odd-girl-out; better yet, our 7th wheel so to speak.

Last thing first, concerning that initial trip with the entire group—our day trip that day turned out to be amazing, a fantastic way to officially kick off our Pattaya visit. Once again Don's choice of venue was right on the mark. He took us to a theme park (and zoo) out on the outskirts of Pattaya called “The Million Years Stone Park.” That foray took up most of the entire day with every second being absolutely glorious. If you are going to visit Pattaya then “The Stone Park” is a must see.

But getting there was not so easy. In fact, for us, it was a bit of a Keystone Cops operation. We were on three scooters, two to a bike. Don with my stepdaughter led the way of course since he was the only one who knew how to get there, mostly. He ended up making a wrong turn that caused us to loop around in a giant circle, but that was but a minor issue all told. I doubt if his wrong turn caused us any more than an extra 15 minutes on the road. During all that scootering, initially I followed directly behind him with my wife seated behind me, followed by the third couple, Al and Cynthia.

Al, a 65 year old Vietnam era veteran, served near Pattaya during the Vietnam War a few miles down the coast at U-tapao Royal Thai Air Base. He doesn’t drive anymore, so his wife drove the two of them around with him tucked in behind her. I really don’t know how she managed it with him so much heavier, but she mostly did okay, that is until my right forearm and wrist went into spasms and I lost the ability to turn the accelerator. With my physical problem slowing me down considerably, Cynthia, afraid of losing sight of Don, sped around me while I did my best to follow.

Unfortunately, Cynthia lost sight of Don. She mistakenly ended up following another scooter into a gated subdivision with me right behind her. I knew something was wrong right away, knowing that Don would never take us that way. Luckily, by the time we got back out to the main road, Don had turned around looking for us. Right as we exited the gate there he was. I got back in behind him, shook much of the stiffness out of my hand and forearm and we made it the rest of the way no problem; although Don then had to go all the way back to the hotel to pick up his girlfriend, Jenny. Of course, he managed that in no time flat since he was able to do his normal bat-out-hell speed, not having to worry about sheparding two weak-ass amateur bikers.

All the logistical fun of getting there aside, the moment we entered The Stone Park we were all absolutely enchanted, no, we were stunned by what we saw around us. Seriously, I have never been in such a large park setting where virtually every direction of sight compels that pictures be taken. There really is no choice; it MUST be done. Do not go to that place without a camera.

Probably most folks who enter The Stone Park end up strolling straight ahead up the wide cobblestone central lane. There are other paths to take but straight ahead is the mesmerizing sight of a fairy lake and waterfall and any normal person is naturally drawn to it. I think aside from its obvious beauty of rock, falling water and greenery, there is something about water in the distance that draws all life forms to it. In our case, it was instinctive, like moths to a flame. No that sounds ominous, so how about like fish to water?

Immediately, even as we began to stroll ahead, we all began snapping pictures and taking video. Everyone that is with the exception of my pretty stepdaughter who was in hog heaven since I kept asking her to be in most of the pictures I was taking. (I keep screwing up the metaphors as there is nothing hoggish about Janine at all!) Although she did have a camera, I’m certain that she took the fewest shots of us all since she was in most of mine. She didn’t mind; she loves having her photo taken, and loves being asked to pose for them.

And we weren’t the only ones almost frantically taking pictures. I would chuckle when at times I'd come to my senses momentarily to pause from my own feverish picture taking to take a moment to look around. Everywhere I looked I'd see almost everyone around me busily aiming cameras while ordering people around in front of their view finders like a gaggle of would be Hollywood directors—hilarious. Of course after these moments of reverie I'd succomb once again and go right back to doing the same thing myself.

THE most unique of all the many features of The Stone Park, as you might suspect from its title, are the stones. They call them stones but some of these behemoths are more like gigantic boulders or Miniature Mountains even.

Don and I began trying to figure out exactly what these features were actually made of. Many of them just seemed too perfectly fanciful to be anything but manmade. I thought at first that they might be constructed of some special concrete substance or something. But no, all of the stones are natural and solid through and through; although its obvious that they have been shaped and perhaps smoothed, especially the ones resembling giant art deco animals, like kangaroos and horses.

Obviously they were brought in from some other location, I would imagine from some place within Thailand, but who knows? I have not been able to find anything online yet that tells where the stones come from or the method of their artful placement. Whoever did it though, they definitely knew what they were doing. The place is essentially a rock garden put together on a super grand scale.

As I write this I'm also going through and editing the scores of photos and video I took of that incredible place. When I say incredible I mean unbelievable. In photo after photo I keep seeing some new aspect of oddly shaped placement of rock and stone juxtaposed among some of the most inventively shaped trees and shrubs imaginable. Many of the shots remind me of artwork seen on the pages of Doctor Zeuss books.

But there is more, much more—crocodiles, elephants, tigers, giant catfish, and many other exotic animals native to the tropics. There are also some amazing specimens of shrubs, bonzais, trees and a host of flowering plants, all beautifully placed among the rocks and water. It is a veritable Asian Garden of Eden.

More on the non-garden stuff located in The Stone Garden in my next post or two, or three… Enjoy the pics. I highly suggest you click on them to get the full effect.


Ed said...

That park is outstanding! I've never seen anything like it.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Exactly. You've just described the entire country of Thailand in a nutshell. You should write for their national tourism board.