Another trip to Gaun’s home in Isaan had us on the road for the eight hour trip, plus stops, and the 600+ kms from Chiang Mai to Si Bun Ruang.
About two hours from the end of our drive to Isaan in the hills close to the Laos border lies a small town called Dan Sai in the province of Loei. Known mainly for the annual spirit festival called Phi Ta Khon, which looks great but unfortunately we missed by a few days this year. More details HERE.
Dan Sai was a good break point for me after six hours driving so we stopped off to explore what lay behind this impressive gateway just off the highway coming into the town:
I am sometimes amazed by the size and effort that’s gone into building and maintaining some Wats in areas that have very little else going for them. I am not sure where the money comes from. This Wat is a good example. As you will see from the photos it is an impressive building, beautifully maintained but Dan Sai itself is a small typical Thai rural town. Not many Buddhist millionaires here I suspect.
Trying to find any history on Wat Neramit is next to impossible. There are many entries on the web for the Wat but they tend to replicate the few words someone put up there originally. It is the frustration of Thailand that it is hard for a foreigner to get an understanding of the historical background to many places like this. Maybe the Thai internet has more information. Blogs like mine tend to end up with lots of nice photos but little “grunt” in the knowledge area.
There are two entrances to the Wat itself. One is where you drive right up to the main building area and the other where you walk up some beautiful steps through the forest and come in the back way to the temple. This is the way I recommend and the following photos show why:
Once inside the temple grounds you are immediately drawn to this large and unusual Viharn (วิหาร pronounced “wee-haan”) or main public building. The web tells me that it, like the walls of the path coming into the temple, are made of unplastered laterite blocks, which is good to know.
As is so often the case in Thailand we were lucky to visit when we did because there was an ordination ceremony happening for a new monk. It provided a reminder that these places aren’t a tourist photo opportunity site but working Buddhist temples carrying on a purpose.
The Wat grounds are beautifully maintained and are quite stylised in presentation.
At the rear of the Viharn is a smaller building dedicated to Luang Pho Phra Maha Phan Sila Wisuttho, whose wax figure sits in the pagoda, in front of his casket. Luang means Venerable Father so this is a monk of some significance. I found this building to be a very powerful place to spend time and would have liked to stay for a longer meditation with the monk. Next time.
So for me another fascinating and unexpected find in the middle of nowhere, my apologies to anyone from Dan Sai reading this blog, and well worth the stop. It will be a regular to do on our future trips to Isaan.
Heading off we soon reached the downhill run out of the hills into our part of Isaan. Welcome home.
Thanks for reading.