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We recently spent five days laying 6,000 bricks to expand the paths in our tropical garden so it was nice to do something very different for a day that didn’t involved bricks and concrete.

We received an invitation from Richard, an American blog reader, a little while back to attend his wedding, which was being held about an hour’s drive from us northwest of Nong Bua Lamphu.

Hello Tony, we spoke a while ago where I introduced myself and let you know I am going to marry a woman from Nong Bua Lamphu. We would love to have you and your lovely wife at our wedding planned for Friday, October 12 (early of course). As details firm up I will let you know. I’ve been to NBL several times and have wanted to contact you; perhaps this can be the time we meet. Looking forward to meeting as we will be neighbors in the future.

Thank you Richard.

In searching for where we were supposed to be driving to on Google Maps I came across a local temple which looked interesting, so we dropped into that after the wedding and were lucky to catch a big ceremony happening. Lunch was at Pizza Pinocchio restaurant in Nong Bua Lamphu, which I haven’t been to in a while.

Actually finding the place proved to be a challenge for the reason many people get lost in Thailand unless you do your research beforehand. Richard sent me his address, part of which read Moo 2 Kuddinjee, Naklang District. The Naklang bit was no problems, although Google spells it Na Klang, but this is a huge area and the moo ban (village) name of Kuddinjee gave me a general area with the English spelling being Kun Din Chi. When I entered Kuddinjee into my GPS it returned nothing.

No Moo 2 of course, which had me stuck for the actual wedding location. I did assume that Kun Din Chi was the same as Kuddinjee so we were partly there.

Luckily Richard’s fiancee was able to send me coords, which matched the village above so we were good to go. An early start for all of us of course because most Thai weddings happen at 9:00 am, nine being a lucky number here.

Gaun started the day dressed a little differently than the last few days when she was in working gear.

Comfortable in either role. An amazingly versatile lady.

We found the place on time and food and drink appeared soon after we sat down. Richard the groom, talking to me with a couple of his friends and their wives who had made the trip up from southern places for the occasion.

The wedding party with the groom. Rin, Richard’s bride waits for him at her house, which is traditional, so it’s a split group at this stage. The groom always walks to the bride’s house.

The groom gets an umbrella held over him. This is traditional too.

Richard’s son on the right in the above photo. I wonder what he made of the Thainess of this occasion. I don’t know how familiar he was with the culture here but a wedding will challenge many farang (and I include myself in that statement). Anyone who has experienced a wedding will know that it a micro example of how life is lived here – orderly chaos! The day sort of evolves as it goes along without an indication that anyone is in charge who has more than a vague plan as to what happens next. This is an illusion because somehow it all comes together with lots of input from the crowd, much of which seems to be ignored. Like most things in Thailand if you fight the process you will end up frustrated and angry. If you go with the flow then you’ll still be confused but you will have a good time anyway.

More photos are taken by people of themselves than the bride and groom!

Never shy of a photo moment. If you want to join in knock yourself out! You will often find that some of the subjects will pay more attention to your camera than the other Thais! See the lady on the left 🙂

Walking back to the house to meet up with the bride a few villagers had turned out to see a farang wedding and where there’s people there’s always food on offer. Ice cream I think in that tub.

A mini-bridesmaid.

And one more.

Richard and Rin. I haven’t seen this more formal arrangement done before, and I have been to many weddings. Gaun tells me this is more ‘Bangkok’ in style.

Water being poured over the hands of the bride and groom.

Very happy to have the chance to be part of Richard and Rin’s day.

I just caught the moment. I don’t know what got their attention.

After the hand washing ceremony there was the formal blessing given by a spiritman. This young bloke was paying attention.

We left shortly after the ceremony. Every wedding I have been to the event we’d call a ‘reception’ happens before the actual wedding ceremony, usually the night before. Once the formal part of the morning is over everything winds down. Caught me totally by surprise at my wedding!

We were now ‘on holiday’ for the rest of the day and had time to spare for an explore. Wat Siri Buntham in the moo ban of Kut Din Chi, Na Klang District. Google Maps HERE. It looked hopeful from the photos on Google and proved to be in real life.

A Facebook friend summed up the oddity of finding quality wats in Thailand when he wrote:

Never ceases to amaze me Tony. You can go through a village so small that you would miss it if you blinked yet it has a temple worthy of a City! Just goes to show what amazing things small communities can achieve when they work together. 🙂

A striking bell tower on the left as we came in from the village entrance.

The animal statues were a little different and gave me hope we might have found somewhere a bit more interesting than the run of the mill village wat.

Hardly a tourist photo but I had someone ask me what these were recently because he noticed them as he drove through Isan. They’re garbage bins – usually made from plastic although they look like metal. You live to learn!

On the right of this entrance is a treed area, which attracts you because of its promise of cool shade, but also because it is full of these Buddha statues.

Thais take a very casual approach to this sort of area because currently it was being used as a campsite by a visiting monk.

There was a group of young kids (school holidays at the moment) who were keen on having photos taken at several locations around the temple.

Straight ahead is this impressive Buddha hall. This is a tiny rural village. How did this come about?

It was our lucky day as well as for Richard and Rin, as there was a big ceremony happening, possibly connected to the winding up of Buddhist Lent. Once again, don’t be shy, join in if you want and take photos. It is appreciated if you show respect and bow three times towards the monks and Buddha statues.

A big turnout of monks from other temples in the area. You will find that they do the rounds to support each other during these times of celebrations and you’ll see the same faces at different locations.

Even monks are obsessed with their mobile phones (guy on the left).

Remember many of them are only ‘temporary’ monks doing this for a short-time to gain merit, especially over Buddhist Lent, so aren’t career monks. Show respect but be as careful with monks as you would with anyone else. Gaun refuses to give monks a lift who are hitchhiking because it is a risk just like other situations. The robes don’t make the man 🙂

Outside the hall these young monks were looking after donation options including this arrangement you will sometimes see as you travel around Thailand.

There should be 99 bowls (remember I said earlier 9 is a lucky number here). You make a donation and get a plate of small coins, which you then drop into each of the bowls and make a wish or say a prayer as you go. You may have more coins than bowls so dump what’s left over in the last one! Like many things it’s all pretty informally formal, like weddings 🙂

Gaun donated some money and is here recording the details.

The monks get well fed in exchange for their attendance and this table is a sort of buffet arrangement for later. Being Isan those are sticky rice packets in the foreground. Steamed rice is only for southerners!

A wide mix of building styles around the large temple grounds. This is built from laterlite blocks, the best example of which can be found at Wat Neramit Wipattasana, which you can read about on the blog HERE.

Wat Neramit Wipattasana in Dan Sai, Loei province. One of my favourite Thai temples. Just beautiful in every way and worth a visit to Dan Sai just to see it.

A mix of laterlite and timber. Nice.

And one more.

Further examples of the variety this wat offers.

It almost looks like a drinking hole doesn’t it.

More kids enjoying the shade and sitting by the water. Note the girl with red tights and a green top because she adopted us (or my camera) later.

Across the water is a man made cave.

Monks inside.

Our new friends had found us again plus one.

And this one was particularly wanting to have her photo taken. Very cute.

And she then popped up here!

Lots of timber being used in this temple too, which gave some variety.

In typical Thai fashion where practicality and function is put well ahead of aesthetics (how something looks) an ugly yellow conduit has been run across the top and down this timber wall (shown above) for a light switch. It is why I keep telling people you MUST be here when building a house because you are dealing with people who don’t ‘see’ what they are doing. If it works – job done. Us farang often want the combination of function AND looks, and that is at odds with the Thai way.

More tents for monks set up in a smaller shrine area. These are cheap lightweight tents, often sold on the side of the road, and are designed to keep the mosquitoes out and not much else.

A large Buddha with the hall to the right. So unusual to find this sort of variety and scale in a local wat.

This monk pops up all over Thailand and Gaun calls him Phra (monk) Siwaree but the internet has nothing on him based on this spelling. I will have to ask Peng to do a Thai search for me and edit later.

Updated 28 Oct 2018: The answer to this Thai riddle came from Jim Busby, a keen reader of the blog and obviously better informed than me rather than Peng. The challenge I had in finding information online was that I got caught in Gaun’s use of the ‘W’, which in Thai can often be a ‘V’ in our spelling and  pronunciation. A search for Siwaree didn’t find much. This often seen monk is Phra Sivali/Sivalee and ‘he is the patron saint of travel and is believed to ward off misfortunes at home such as fire or theft’ – see Wikipedia HERE. Thanks Jim.

Lined up at the buffet.

Begging bowls at the ready. As always the seniors go first and the juniors at the back to get whatever is left over.

Always time for a photo moment to mark the occasion.

I would love to have this sitting in the garden. Unusual to see one at all let alone in this good condition.

A Facebook friend wrote:

My wife remembers her dad taking her to the hospital in one of those wagons, laying flat on the boards, pulled by a buffalo, through the jungle on rough dirt roads 7 kms as well as many trips to town, before the age of 11. She was always sick living in the jungle. The wagons look cute, but looks can be deceiving! 😉

And more to tempt me.

Original wheels.

Inside the cart. A bamboo frame for the cover.

Weddings and temples over with we drove back to Pinocchio’s in Nong Bua Lamphu. Hidden off the main roads but worth making the effort. It is the only decent farang orientated place in NBL. Google Maps HERE.

Any place that asks what you want to drink and delivers before the food order is worth a place in my heart.

Pretty casual by western standards but for rural Thailand very unusual.

A small mix of farang food on offer.

Wood fired thin crust pizzas. Very nice. A great way to finish a busy morning.

Thanks for reading.