My friend and I went to Saraburi to visit a local tourist attraction-sunflower fields. Doesn’t sound that exciting? Believe me it is worth the effort of getting there and even more so because we decided to skip the organised day trips from Bangkok and do a DIY version instead.
We left Bang Sue at 9.20am- the train should have left at 8.20am but hey this is Thailand. We travelled an hour and a half north to Khaeng Koi Junction where we changed trains for a thirty minute journey to Hin Son.
Hin Son is literally in the middle of nowhere. We had co-ordinates to follow and we had been told that the sunflower field was in the direction away from the school and towards the temple. That’s all we knew, and without ACTUAL GPS we walked for about 10 minutes to a temple we had spotted and decided that we were going in the wrong direction.
Luckily, we had seen some sunflower fields from the train, so we walked back to the train station-getting some bemused stares from the locals. On the opposite side to the station was a road but we agreed that it didn’t look like it went to the fields-we found out later it did-so we decided to walk back along the train track. Actually, we started walking through the fields but the grass started to get very long in places and we were scared that there may be snakes. A snake bite in the middle of nowhere would lead to certain death- maybe a bit of an exaggeration but a snake bite would be very serious, to say the least, considering one of us would have to leave the bitten party to go in search of help. Not a very sensible idea. So we backtracked a little and started walking along the train track. There are only three trains a day and we didn’t see one but we were constantly checking in both directions and we were ready to dive off to the side of the track if one came trundling along.
We arrived at the sunflower field with no scrapes- even though we had to scramble across the track with a 12 foot drop below. In our imaginations that drop was 1000 feet. We were a little burnt and our feet were sore from walking on the track.
On either side of the train track there are fields and fields of beautiful sunflowers. It’s very peaceful, right in the middle of nowhere. There was no one else there apart from a couple of people who arrived in a van who, like us, had come to see the sunflowers, and a few stallholders who were setting up their stalls for the weekend rush of people arriving on the train. We basically had the place to ourselves. We wandered around taking photos and then we went and rested up a while in the shade with some sunflower juice to quench our thirsts.
While we were sitting there one the stallholders asked where we had come from. We told her that we had walked from Hin Son. She looked shocked. Thais don’t walk anywhere. Once we had recovered we decided to continue walking away from Hin Son-back in the direction of Bangkok-to the train stop-no more than a hut- at Khao Hin Dad. We didn’t know the name of the place at the time but we had definitely seen the hut. We walked off with the lady shouting:
“You can’t walk that way, it’s all jungle.”
We both looked at each other, jungle? The train goes that way so we thought it was safe to say there wasn’t any jungle going to block our way.
So off we went walking along the train track again. After a while we suddenly realised that the road was running parallel to the track but there was no way that we were going to get to it because the undergrowth was just too thick. So we continued along the track. Every few minutes we could hear lorries passing by on the road but we thought it was a train, so we stopped in our tracks (get it) and were ready to dive to safety. But all was ok. How we misjudged the distance between the hut and the sunflower field I still wonder today. We were sure it was closer. We kept walking and walking with nothing but train track in front of us. In the end I spotted a way off the train track to the road. It’s a good job I saw it because we were chatting to each other and could easily have missed it. But we swapped track for road. At least it was easier to walk on. After a good fifteen minutes we finally saw a sign that said railway crossing. At the same time a guy stopped on this motorbike and was asking us where we were going and where we had been. Typical. We had been walking for what turned out to be 5 km when someone saw us and told us where we were supposed to be going.
This guy, whose name was Mr. Praset, asked us if we wanted to go to his house and sleep the night. We gathered that he ran some sort of homestay. We politely turned him down and said we would wait for the train back to Bangkok. Off he went and we sat by the road. About fifteen minutes later he came back with bananas, a packet of chocolate biscuits, and a bottle of water each for us. He sat there and chatted away to us for ages. He asked us if we wanted a lift to Khaeng Koi but, again, we politely declined and said we would get the train. Off he went again and we moved to the hut that is the train stop in Khao Hin Dad. Some more people arrived, this time to just sit and stare at us- quite amusing really.
Mr. Praset came back again-this time in his truck- and asked us again if we wanted a lift to Khaeng Koi because he didn’t think we would make it in time to get the train back to Bangkok. As much as we wanted to get the train back, we also didn’t want to miss the train from Khaeng Koi, so we agreed and got in his truck. So we were off back towards Khaeng Koi but not before going back to Mr. Praset’s home. He wanted to show us where he lived. We literally drove into the drive, said hello to his daughter, and reversed out again. From what we saw it looked lovely and we found out that he exports flowers to China from the fields at the back of his house. But we suspected that he only wanted to show off his new “farang” friends to his daughter.
Mr. Praset seemed happy at our accepting his offer and excitedly kept saying:
“Look! It’s only 5.30pm; you won’t miss your train.”
We arrived at Khaeng Koi and offered him some money for the ride. He told us before that it would cost 100 baht each but he did not accept anything from us.
This is one of these random things that happen and it’s been a long time since anything like this has happened to me. While I don’t want to be walking along any train tracks, with seemingly no end, for a while, I loved meeting Mr. Praset and will definitely be paying him a visit when I am next in that area. As for the DIY day out to visit the sunflower fields- I would not have missed it for the world.