If you are planning a trip to Thailand, I can almost guarantee you that you will want to know as much as you can about Thailand’s most popular destination, Nakhon Ratchasima. Nakhon Ratchasima literally means “the last town”. It is also known as the “town of last temples”. The entire region was once a part of Vietnam before it was united with Thailand. Vietnam and Thailand were formerly one country until Vietnam came under the rule of the French. So in that respect, Nakhon Ratchasima was one of the last countries in Vietnam before Thailand became an independent nation.
Nakhon Ratchasima literally means “the last town in Thailand”. It is located in Northeast Thailand, near the border with Burma. There are so many attractions to suit most interests and tastes, from enormous temples and ancient museums to intriguing national parks and even bizarre locations of historical interest. One of the most famous is the Phroms River which flows through the center of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Jim Thompson is a British expatriate who has written numerous books on Thailand. He first visited Thailand back in 1965 and has since returned several times to share the incredible culture and natural beauty of the country. In his new book, Nakhon Ratchasima: A Search for the Last Town in Thailand, he includes an account of his first encounter with the town of Nakhon. According to Jim Thompson, a young American tourist was walking past a small temple in Nakhon when he suddenly encountered three elderly men selling crystal paper lanterns on the street. They told the American tourist that they were selling these lanterns from a nearby village called Thong Lo, but that the lanterns were very old and could not be sold in the United States.
The American tourist purchased one of the lanterns for an astonishing twenty-five dollars and approached the men offering to sell him the other two lanterns. Jim asked what the value of the items was and one of the old men told him that they were hundreds of thousands of dollars in value. Jim asked if they would be willing to sell the items on the spot and the men agreed. Jim inspected one of the statues that they were selling and immediately recognized it as a Buddha statue, and he bought it for twenty-five dollars.
Jim returned to Nakhon Ratchasima the next day and purchased another statue of a Buddha. He told the young American tourist that he had made the purchase at the same location where he had bought the first item. A number of men came out of the temple and explained that they were the store owners. Jim asked them where they had made the purchases, and one of them replied that they were from Thailand. Jim knew that Thailand was a part of Southeast Asia and remembered the Buddhist temples that he had visited while on his trip. Jim knew that the national park that he had been in earlier in Thailand was called the Phra Nang Oae National Park.
Jim and his companion, Robert, were soon lost in the jungle. They eventually came across a roadblock just outside of the national park. They were blocked by a security guard who warned them to move on or they would be arrested. Jim and Robert were taken to the national police headquarters. There, they were questioned and then released without being arrested.