The eastbound journey out of Bangkok is not at all scenic, dominated initially by traffic-choked suburban sprawl and then by the industrial landscape of the petrochemical and shipping industries that power Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard. The first major population centre is the provincial capital of Chonburi, whose only notable attraction is its annual October bout of buffalo-racing. Twenty kilometres on, you reach the fast-growing town of SI RACHA, a prosperous residential and administrative hub for the Eastern Seaboard’s industries and home to a sizeable population of expat families. The town is best known though as the source of nam phrik Si Racha, the chilli-laced ketchup found on every kitchen table in Thailand, and as the departure point for the island of Ko Si Chang. Si Racha’s only sight is the Sino–Thai “island temple” of Wat Ko Loy, a gaudy hexagon presided over by a statue of the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Im, and located on an islet at the end of a 1500m causeway, adjacent to the pier for boats to Ko Si Chang.
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