I can’t believe that having told you in yesterday’s post that you can find HERE, that I had run out of new things to write about I am sharing the discovery of two wonderful timber wats just down the road from us a day later. Both of them are hidden away (neither are on Google Maps) and I would never have found them other than through the recommendation of locals. I would rate both temples as a must see if in the area of Nong Bua Lamphu/Si Bun Ruang.

We started the day with no intention of visiting wats. An Australian friend of ours and his wife were going to drive over from Udon Thani to see us at home for lunch but he called in sick early morning (I hope you are feeling better Terry) so plan B came into effect, which was to drop into a temple (wat) party being held in the moo ban (village) of Gaun’s eldest sister a 30 minute trip from us. Yuan and Lud took another day’s holiday and joined us. It ended up that most of the wat party action had happened earlier in the morning so I don’t have many photos to share of the event. It wasn’t all bad news though because free food was being provided in vast quantities so my Thai family enjoyed a large lunch at my sister-in-law’s place before we started our drive home.

A few fairground stalls were in action designed to remove money from kids the same as anywhere else.

Remote controlled car racing. The kids were driving in much the same way as they will when adult!

The heros of any Isaan event – the cooks. Papaya salad here. Super hot and sour.

Free food will always bring a smile to a Thai person’s face – Gaun here. BTW she did share that tray with family! Papaya salad, snail soup and two bamboo dishes (not all shown here). I decided I wasn’t hungry 🙂

Scaffolding on the wat’s new bell tower as per international regulations SR 1234 Section 321.

Driving home Lud mentioned that someone he had spoken to had recommended we visit a new wat that was being built just off the road we were on.

You would never find it unless you knew of it. There was a small sign in Thai but all that can be seen from the road is a dirt track disappearing into the fields. Trust me and follow the track. At the end you will find a “Pha” wat, a temple whose monks follow the Thai forest tradition, details of which can be found HERE. These wats are very different from the “normal” white, red and gold buildings you see all over Thailand. They are usually enclosed in a large treed area (a forest is called a Pha or Pa in Thai) and their structures are simple using a lot of timber. I am a real fan of these temples because they are very connected to nature and are often set in the countryside away from the noise and bustle of village life. In a land where so much construction is concrete and steel it is a total pleasure to be surrounded with timber.

This is the main hall structure. Another building is partly built on the righthand side.

Halfway there. I will cover this new structure first and then move to the main hall.

There are only two monks in residence plus an old guy and his wife and they are doing most of the building work. Villagers will come in and help out when they can.

My self indulgent Gaun photo. These are the steps leading up to the first floor of the new building.

Massive hardwood beams supporting the upper floor.

Work in progress. Natural timber floor joists in place. That’s a structure that will outlast me for sure.

Lud and Yuan. Full tree sized supports for the roof.

Hand cut flooring going down. Nothing is from the local DIY store!

Just like a bought one. Tongue and groove (is that the correct expression?)

Nice job.

The structure from the other side. Very impressive.

From here we moved across to the main hall, which is complete. This is one of the staircases entering the hall:

A single monk on duty to give a blessing if required.

When a evening programme is in progress this is what it looks like. This photo was taken at our local temple called Wat Pha Silawa.

And this is the abbot of Silawa, just a delightful, friendly monk.

The same shot as above but a better view of the roof.

Chatting to the monk (not me obviously) we were told that his wat was based on another more established forest temple on the outskirts of Gaun’s sister’s village, so back we went. A family member was picked up on the way through to give directions and we found ourselves at another group of beautiful temple buildings.

The entrance and a utility hall (cooking, eating, washing dishes, sleeping, toilets) on the right.

A pretty flash service building. Spotless as most forest temples seem to be. The shiny white floor tiles really emphasise the warmth of the timber, which unusually hasn’t been varnished. I much prefer this natural look.

I love the use of raw timber, which is left in its original shape rather than being cut to a uniform size.

Nice. I wonder if they would miss it?

A second floor at the back is still under construction. This would be used as sleeping quarters come big festival times.

The best dish washing presentation I have seen in a temple.

Another view.

There are some toilets are behind this feature wall.

A closer view of that second floor. Small folding tents are often used at these occasions to keep the mosquitoes out.

They must have a quality abbot in charge here to have things built to this quality and kept looking this perfect. All the monks were away when we visited. Next time.

Ad-hoc but it seems to work.

The main Buddha hall sits behind the utility hall.

Most of the Pha temples I have visited have this same basic design. Big open areas and a slightly raised platform at the end for a few statues. All very simple and neat.

Uncluttered.

Behind this hall you will find the house of the abbot in the same theme of course.

It looks like some sort of timber spacecraft.

Dragons are a Chinese Thai feature so I am not sure how this guy got included here.

How about that for a staircase!

And finally there is another building mostly completed at the back of the site, which looks as though it is a glorified farming shed. The temple owns rubber tree plantations so maybe this is connected to an income producing part of the operation.

More intricate roofing.

The main hall and the abbot’s house at the back.

Even the toilets are flash with solid timber doors and they are double the normal size inside. No shortage of money here.

There is a local connection to these two wats that I thought I would use to elegantly finish this post! A new small wat is being built just past the family farm ten minutes from our home and the head monk there, a lovely guy called Dit who went to school with Yuan, got his ideas from these temples. He has very limited money and most of the work is being done by his family members but the end result will be a mini-forest wat.

Work in progress.

The accommodation is a little basic compared to the second wat isn’t it 🙂

So there you have the results of an unexpected afternoon out in the countryside of isaan. Finding places like this renews my enjoyment of sharing them with readers. It is an aspect of the culture that the average tourist just never sees. The reliance of visitors on the Trip Advisor top 10 plus a shortage of time and limited transport prevents them accessing the everyday hidden treats like these two places.

Thanks for reading.