Tuesday, April 20, 2010

3,000 Holes, Sam Pan Bok, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Songkran has passed and the family decided to go check out a newish tourist attraction here in Ubon called Sam Pan Bok, or 3,000 holes.Sam Pan Bok is nicknamed both "The Grand Canyon of Ubon" and "The Grand Canyon of the Mekong" as the geological wonder was carved and shaped over hundreds of thousands of years by the Mekong River.You approach the place over some very rough dirt roads and get the feeling that you're in the boonies, which you are. The Mekong River in this area is the natural border between Thailand and Laos. From above, Sam Pan Bok looks like any other orangy, rocky place, but when you walk down to the edge of the river and past and through some of the large holes created over many years by swirling water and strong currents, it's pretty amazing. At times, you have the feeling of walking on a moonscape, which in and of itself is amazing.The Mekong gets pretty low in the dry season, even as low as to stop all barges carrying products from China to the south and visa versa. As the waters recede, all these holes are revealed, many of them hold fish trapped (the larger ones) and many are just breeding pots for mosquitoes and tadpoles.Thing is, the Mekong must have been so much higher or deeper in the past, as these formations and holes caused by water erosion soar, at some points, to like 25-50 meters above current water levels.Again, amazing and makes me wonder what it was like 10,000 years ago in the same area. The place is definitely in the boonies, totally undeveloped outside of some entrepreneuring souls who throw up some bamboo huts and sell sodas and bottled water, and rent out boats to tour the area.Nothing "official", seriously, just a bunch of dudes with boats haggling with the customers for an hourly or per trip rental of their ride. So, I'm saying, I don't imagine it was too different back then outside of a lot more water perhaps, less holes perhaps, lots more fish and wildlife...who knows right?!!! Something for me to daydream about for a week or so though!Great day trip, just starting to be marketed as a tourist attraction in Ubon. It's just so far away from everything, the truly adventurous, backpackers with months at their disposal, or residents of nearby provinces are the ones packing the area right now. I'm sure Ubon hopes that more people will start visiting, get a share of the foreign tourist cash!

Songkran post coming, I'm slow, I know...back to Bangkok tomorrow! See you again Ubon, we love you!

3 comments:

Naomi Hanks said...

Wow! That would definitely be a must see sight for me! It looks amazing and I would love to camp in a place like that. Maybe some day we can all go together. :)

Anonymous said...

Looks like Utah to me - Lake Powell area. Dad.

Darwin said...

Definitely and interesting place to visit if you can go at the right time of the year. I didn't feel like I was at the Grand Canyon or even those places in Utah but I did feel like I was on Mars or someplace off this planet. Looks like you enjoyed the trip. Hoo-rah

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