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We watched with a lot more than little trepidation as Neelam and Dinesh, our group members, placed their feet gingerly on the steep rock face, preparing to get down.

Their feet struggled to find a foothold at first,  slipped for one heart-stopping moment,  and then steadied once again. All of us, including those who had averted their eyes, heaved an audible sigh of relief at their safe touchdown. Rock climbing in Nakhon Nayok province of Thailand is a popular sport. There are entire holidays woven around this theme with many takers among  the Thais. Especially among Bangkok residents, considering the fact that it’s a short drive from the capital.

The more adventurous among our group were getting their share of thrills from this activity. The rest of us preferred to be spectators of this sport. But then, we had roughed it out in our ATVs (all terrain vehicle) and had our fill of adventure for the day. Besides the forested hillsides, golf courses, rocky areas and waterfalls, Nakhon Nayok also has rough local terrain.

There are several well-delineated dirt track circuits on which you can take your ATV along and have a thrilling ride. You can either hire an ATV for as little as 100 baht or if you are less confident, you can go on a guided tour with a trained driver alongside or behind you on another ATV. 

We were looking forward to river rafting on the Nakhon Nayok River, which has the Klong Tha Dan Dam over it. However, our rafting turned out to be sedate sailing down the river due to the fact that the waters were rather placid at that time of day and on that chosen stretch of the stream. So, we neither felt the rush of water nor adrenaline.

If you are game to driving out into the wild at night, take the night safari in the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s second largest, that runs through the Nayok province among others in the country.

We also drove out to Ganesha Park, which is a short drive from Bangkok. There are two enormous statues of the elephant-headed god so dear to Indians. One of them is seated in the traditional posture while the other can be seen to be reclining. In the first temple, you encounter a gigantic Ganesha with four hands holding the three-pronged weapon or trishul in one hand and modaks (his favourite food) in another. A large mouse faces Ganesha. It is believed that you merely have to whisper your wishlist into the mouse’s ear. He will tell Ganesha all about it, who in turn will fulfill it for you. There were more Thais whispering into his ear than Indians!

Brahma might not enjoy much patronage in his native land –– most are acquainted with the Puranic story wherein he was cursed that he would not have idols of his installed and worshipped on earth. However, in this Hindu temple, he sits pretty — a large, well-chiselled statue alongside Mahavishnu, complete with Garuda and Shiva, all fronted by another Ganesha –– in a smaller temple within this complex.

Tourists crowd the rows of shops selling small Ganesha icons, photographs, and other paraphernalia while Buddhist monks sit in small alcoves and bigger halls, spinning the rosary or pronouncing benediction on devotees who come and touch their feet, seeking their blessings. This is a multi-faith complex — there are many statues of Sakyamuni too. As we made our way through the many open halls of this complex, Buddhist chants mingled with strains of Shree Ganeshaya Namaha.

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