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I thought I would start writing some ‘mini-posts’ as places or events come along that inspire me. My normal posts take a few hours to put together and therefore they are a greater commitment in time, even for a retired, not much else to do type of guy like me. By publishing some of my smaller stories as they happen I can more easily keep the blog fresh and relevant with less effort and the latter is the theme of my life in Thailand 🙂 Let me know if you enjoy this more informal approach.

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to join some of the villagers and the abbot of our local forest wat on a trip to a temple that’s being built about an hour and a half drive east from us. The main purpose of the expedition was a monk feeding ceremony, for both resident and visiting monks, and to raise money for yet more construction. As the meal happens very early I gave that a miss and we turned up later to an almost empty wat! I wasn’t too concerned we had missed the ceremony because on the way we stopped off at one of those totally odd and surprising wats being built in the middle of not much, which has now been added to my visitors to-do list.

Not my photo obviously as no one has donated money for a Tony drone (yet). This is Wat Pa Keson Sin Khun Thamma Chedi and it is split into two sections. There’s a small but immaculate group of buildings at the base of this hill and then there’s THIS being built at the summit.

Subtle it ain’t. This is a mammoth construction project in the hills between Nong Bua Lamphu and Udon Thani, an area of small rural villages. How does this happen?

I wonder if they are copying Wat Pha Nam Yoi, which is one of the most impressive wats in Thailand I have seen. Once again in the middle of nothing Roy Et way. My blog post HERE.

Still early days but the shell is mostly in place.

Massive structures with a matching huge potential to be impressive when finished.

This is Wat Pha Nam Yoi again. This type of decoration might not be your thing but you have to admit it is impressive. I can’t wait to see if this will be copied. The tradesmen will be available as Nam Yoi is finished now.

What might be a gallery walkway.

It’s a good thing concrete is cheap here!

Another taste of the maybes – Nam Yoi, which is truly unbelievable. You can see that the base concrete structure is the same in both wats. It just depends if the locals can raise the money and/or have the inclination to copy Nam Yoi.

A crane feature with the wat built around it.

This was the only other visitor so I have used him purely to give you an idea of scale. This is the second floor.

And again. Big isn’t it.

The second floor inside the building I showed you in the previous two photos. You can see that this is a tall space by comparing the size of the motorbikes.

The unbelievable scaffolding structure that is holding up the dome. It’s a wow moment in itself.

I have no idea what these will end up being but there were masses of them being worked on. They are curved so not easy to make and as you can see they have all been handmade from timber.

Three monks working while I was there filling in the holes and gaps with plastic putty.

As you can see the putty manufacturer had a field day with this order!

Other handmade ‘things’. Who knows what they will become. I will report back in time as I intend to follow construction on this wat.

Looking down to our pickup and Gaun (my wife) and Peng (stepdaughter) from the second floor. Half finished wats don’t grab their attention like they do for me.

The joys of a decent telephoto.

And in reverse this is Gaun’s photo of me after I took the last two pictures of them. The tiny Tony (that’s me top right) gives an idea of the size of this project. It is huge.

Terrific views out the back even on a very cloudy, just about to rain, sort of day.

The GPS coords for those who use them.

This is our second wat. A slight difference in scale and cost. Wat Pa Doi Nam Chan – Pa = forest, Doi = a hill in the far north of Thailand – Chiang Mai/Rai, and a Nam (water) Chan (?) is photographed later. 

Although this is called a Pa (forest) wat, which are normally built from timber, this one is steel and concrete roofing tiles.

The standard simple shrine presentation. Unusual to see a white Buddha. Nice.

Still early days but this will always be a pretty basic structure. The flooring is stick-down vinyl, no doubt put down for the day.

This is a small busload of our villagers heading home just as we arrived. They had been here since 4:00 am cooking and helping out.

The ‘Nam Chan’ bit of the name was up a dirt road that made me glad to have a high riding pickup, even if not four wheel drive. The track ended here, an area that has optimistically cleared for future construction.

The abbot lent us a yai (grandmother) to guide us to the Nam Chan. Here we are battling through dense rainforest keeping a eye out for wild elephants (not really). Snakes maybe but as I am last in the line I wasn’t too concerned 🙂

This was the monk’s ‘home’ when he lived further up the hill from his current location. I presume it was better maintained at that time! I guess it is why he is drawn to extend the wat to this area…and the Nam Chan of course. Got you excited now haven’t I?

Dah dah – the Nam Chan!!!!! which is a tiny stream of water running down the side of this rock face that fills this concrete container. The pipe that leads off it goes to a number of holding tanks. That’s it 🙂 It really wasn’t worth getting the car dirty but if you don’t give it a go…………

The water tanks filled by the nam cham.

As always part of the pleasure of small moments like this is the generosity of the local people.

The abbot to offer us a guide and the lady who showed us the world famous Nam Chan was friendly and pleased to help out. In my opinion the mass clearing has ruined this area, which would have been natural vegetation not that long ago. Hopefully it will be replanted at some stage.

And this is my favourite photo of the day. We passed this group on the way up to the wat and they were still sitting in the road an hour later when we came back down. They are mushroom pickers who in true Isaan style have finished work and have just sat themselves down for a chat. They were looking happy because the abbot had given us some food, which Gaun gave them, but also they were so enthusiastic to have a photo taken by a passing farang. It is this warmth and spontaneous welcoming that make Isaan such a delightful place to live.

Take an interest and the locals replay you ten times.

A small crop but probably worth 200 baht. This was yet another interesting day out, which supports my theory that you only get bored in Isaan if you sit on your arse being a farang in your living room.

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