Wat Muang – a big Buddha and another Hell garden

In August, I went with a friend to Ang Thong, a province about 100 km north of Bangkok. The province is known for its temples. Most notable is Wat Muang, site of the largest sitting Buddha figure in Thailand—84 meters tall, sitting atop an eight-meter high pedestal. To give another sense of perspective: the statue is enormous. There is a mirrored sanctuary hall with wax figures of the deceased chief monk and his acolytes. Wat Muang also has a Hell garden—a warning to immoral visitors of what will happen to them in the afterlife. The kids don’t seem too worried;…

Angkor Wat on a shoestring

Suppose you can’t get up to Cambodia because money’s tight, or because Interpol is waiting at the border. No fear—Thailand has its own Khmer temples you can visit! The temple at Phimai Historical Park is the terminus of the Ancient Khmer Highway, the most important road of the Khmer Empire, which started at Angkor Wat. A little further on is Ku Pueai Noi, which was reminiscent of Pre Rup and East Mabon with their brickwork, although not at all as large or as high.

Mun Bhuridatta

As I noted before, the Thais have a penchant for making life-size statues of important Buddhist monks. But for the most important monks, a life-size statue may not be enough. Meet Mun Bhuridatta (1870-1949), a monk who spent more than 50 years meditating in the forests of Thailand, leading a strictly ascetic lifestyle. We came across him while driving out of Khon Kaen, and there was no way we couldn’t check this out. The statue is part of a small temple and roadside museum to Mun Bhuridatta. Would Mun Bhuridatta have appreciated this commemoration? It’s hard to say. “Searching out…

Wat Nong Waeng

A few weeks ago, we went to Khon Kaen, a city in the northeast, because—well, because it was there and it was time for an adventure. In many respects, Khon Kaen looked like a lot of other places in Thailand, but there were a few interesting sights. First, we have Wat Nong Waeng (Nong Waeng Temple), which is allegedly the most famous temple in Khon Kaen. It’s notable for its nine-level tower, although the view from the top is about as interesting as the view from my 12th floor apartment, and not worth the film. However, the building itself has…

Let’s learn Thai – part 8, in which I almost get a social disease

I decided to go back to language lessons after a six-week hiatus, since I began forgetting everything I’d learned. I’m enjoying the new school, although it is a bit like drinking from a firehose. Every day is something new. Today, my teacher explained the structure “nʉ̀ng nai” (หนึ่งใน), which means “one of”, as in “one of the things I hate about Thai is how difficult it is.” The “ʉ” is pronounced like you would pronounce “uhh” while grinning from ear to ear (which is why Thailand is called the Land of Smiles; you have to stretch your mouth to pronounce…

Back to the salt mines

Actually, salt fields; one January afternoon, we visited salt fields on the Gulf of Thailand. The salt makers let the water flow into three rows of salt pools, and then evaporate them, using windmills to pump the water from one field to another. Once the water evaporates, the salt makers use a steamroller to flatten the pool bed, and then they start again.

Textures of Lad Prao

More photos from the “oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be maintaining a blog” series … Lad Prao is a traditional neighborhood along the edge of the Lad Prao canal (คลอง, pronounced “khlong”). The neighborhood is slowly being abandoned and demolished for new, higher-income housing. The demolition, and condition of the buildings generally, provide opportunities for abstract/textural work.