A mini-post with a few interesting things we did yesterday.
We were on the road to look at a house friends of ours have built south of Si Bun Ruang using most of the team that constructed our home in 2014/15. As always I never see a trip in Thailand as directly from A to B. If you see something that looks interesting go for it. If you don’t you will end up missing out on so much. Two wats to share as a result and you couldn’t get more different styles.
Wat Non Ngam Ban Sa-At
Salespeople out there will know all about the USP – the Unique selling proposition.
Thai wats understand this concept very well and many of them try to add a unique aspect to their construction projects to attract the people and money. This is Wat Non Ngam Ban Sa-At on highway 2133 south of Si Bun Ruang HERE. Guess the USP they are using based on the photo above.
Coloured stones is the correct answer. I haven’t seen them being used in this way and to this extent before but I am sure there are other wats that have picked up on the idea. This is the toilet block. If caught short in Thailand look for a temple. Lots of toilets and usually pretty clean.
It’s funny when the toilet block is a highlight of your temple visit 🙂
I can’t believe I am including several photos of toilets in this [post 🙂
This is where the monks would sit and be fed at the time of a big ceremony.
Broken tiles being used embedded into a concrete path.
This was a small area to the left of the entrance but with the paving and trees it was a pleasant space.
These trees are the same variety as some of the tall hedges we have in our garden. If you don’t trim them they grow into quite tall trees with long hanging roots like this one. There’s another photo I have included in the next wat write up.
This is the same plant maintained as a hedge at our home. These are well over three metres high.
Buddha with rabbits! Rabbits are seen as good luck in Thailand, which is why you might come across live rabbits in some temples and of course the V sign Thais give for photos is for rabbit ears.
The bell tower overlooking the Buddha shrine.
Yet more toilets. Wats are mostly empty of people but several times a year they have large influxes for special ceremonies and at those times toilets are needed. In fact toilets may be the first construction with a new wat as construction is fueled by donations and you can’t have those without parties to encourage people to dip into their wallets.
We have two small versions of this palm in our garden. I can’t wait to see them like this one.
Ours are on either side of the pot. and are growing quickly as is everything else.
Stored timber. Beautiful.
A temple storeroom.
Work in progress. There was a lot of building activity both on the pebbling but also constructing new buildings – an endless task at all wats with money.
This guy was carefully selecting each pebble based on size and then dipping it into concrete and adding it to the wall. Slow and steady applies to this task.
A temporary monk who has just finished a cigarette contemplating life. Many Thai males become monks for the Buddhist Lent period and then return to ‘normal’ life.
A rather messy shrine. You will often see grandfather clocks in wats and I am not sure why. Something to do with the passing of time. As you can see it was midday when I took this photo and it was funny to hear London’s Big Ben striking the time in a small rural Thai temple.
We were called over by the monks who wanted a chat. They also wanted us to see this two headed calf, which isn’t what you expect to see in the temple or anywhere else come to that.
Wat Pa Santi Tham Wararam
On the way to our friend’s house we came across this forest temple. It is now on my list of scenic local wats.
This is the second temple called Wat Pa Santi Tham Wararam, which you can find on Google Maps HERE. This is a forest wat, which you can always pick by the use of the word ‘Pa’ (forest) in the title.
As with most of these forest tradition wats, simple, beautifully maintained and using a lot of timber in the construction. This one is way off the main road and you’d never find it unless you knew where it was. I think this is one of the best bell towers I have seen in Thailand. Just stunning.
Just us and a monk. Set in farmland so quiet and peaceful.
Clean simplicity. Much my preferred style.
The impressive entrance to the abbot’s house. He came down to see us and have a chat (with Gaun). Monk’s are usually very friendly and make you welcome. Never be afraid of approaching them.
It is very unusual to see carved figures like this. I guess the termites get to them before they get too old. There were two of these either side of the entrance gateway. They were originally owned by a local faragn and when he dies his wife donated them to the temple.
The one on the other side.
The abbot’s house. Very classy.
A beautiful use of timber. Some of these constructions are more natural in their use of wood but this one has a lot more processed timber.
I took this photo because Gaun is standing in front of a pi-gun tree (the Bulletwood). Her nickname of Gaun (I spell it that way otherwise people would call her a firearm, which isn’t the correct pronunciation) is the flower from this tree. Most Thais are known by their nicknames. You may never find out their ‘real’ name.
A lot of bamboo used to create the ‘pa’ aspect to this temple. Paths wandering off, which are used by the monks for walking contemplation sessions.
More detail on the bell tower. I call it that even though they either house gongs or in this case a drum, called Klong Pane in Thai.
All these paths have been swept in typical forest wat tradition. See how neatly all the timber has been stacked. You won;t see this sort of attention to detail in most of the non-forest village temples, which are often a mess.
The washing up and food preparation area.
Guna and tower.
Gaun pronounces this statue as ‘si waree’ and I am not sure if it represents Buddha or a monk. Finding information online using phonetic translations is always pretty iffy.
This is that hedge/tree alternative again. You can see the roots better in this photo.
I won’t cover this house in detail without the owner’s permission but here’s a taste of what his interpretation of Thai living looks like. It’s on a farm block very close to a small village. They are a few years off retirement so have designed a house that can be expanded come the time. This has a single bedroom, bathroom and kitchen with huge outside living areas overlooking the pond and the hills beyond.
My team have done a great job by the look of it (thank goodness as I recommended them) and we are invited to the housewarming complete with live music in November when the owners come over from Australia to see it completed for the first time.
Getting a Thai Pink ID Card
There is some debate about the usefulness of the Thai pink ID card, which is the expat equivalent of the blue ID cards all Thais carry around, but I feel more is better. Buy a large electrical item and you have to produce a Thai ID card. Odd.
Anyway, I wanted to register as a new patient at a local doctor’s clinic and the receptionist asked me for my passport, which I didn’t have. It ended up not being a problem but I thought that I may as well complete my package of doing everything a farang can do, except citizenship which is a bridge too far, by adding a pink card to my wallet.
The Si Bun Ruang amphur office, a local government centre that handles everything from land registration to marriage documents, is always super efficient and they proved to be the same this time. It took a little extra time because they almost never do them but 30 minutes later I had mine.
I followed the documentation requirements as detailed in the excellent Isaan lawyers website HERE taking along copies of passport pages, my yellow house book and marriage certificate plus copies of Gaun’s ID card and blue house book. This office wasn’t too interested in the copies, in fact handing them back at the end, and instead took some scans of their own, but each amphur office works slightly differently so don’t take this as standard.
They took electronic scans of my thumbs and a (bad) photo and after the payment of 60 baht ($2.40) I had my ID card.
Thai bureaucracy often gets a bad write-upon forums but in my case I have always found them to be excellent as long as you do your research and turn up with the documents they need.
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