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.
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.
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.
From here we moved across to the main hall, which is complete. This is one of the staircases entering the hall:
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.
Behind this hall you will find the house of the abbot in the same theme of course.
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.
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.
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.