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Wat Pa Sup Anan



For a change of schedule, we headed out to the farm this afternoon instead of our normal morning coffee run. It’s the variety of my retired life that makes it all so exciting 🙂

After dropping Gaun off at the farmhouse, I continued on to view the progress that has been made on Wat Pa Sap Anan, a small forest temple being constructed 1 km further on.

Building in Thailand eBook

When my wife and I bought some land in Isaan, which is a region in the north east of Thailand, and then started to build our house I wanted to record the daily events of construction life. For twenty six weeks I wrote a weekly blog update about all the aspects of the build and included as much detail as possible for others who might be thinking of going down the same path. I was surprised by the number of readers I attracted as a result of writing on this subject, many of whom followed the entire build from beginning to end. 

Based on this continued interest I thought I would revisit my original words and bring them all together under the one heading in the form of an eBook. Included in this process has been some extensive updating and expansion of many of the original posts and the addition of the many comments, which are designed to expand your knowledge and save you time or money or both!

Read more HERE and find out how to obtain the eBook.

I am loving your book – just on my second read at the moment, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything first time around (which actually it turns out I did!).  

Just a note of thanks at this point ……. I am a fairly methodical sort of bloke, but there are many issues which your book highlights which I just wouldn’t have thought about – or if I had, I may well have assumed they were “standard” building practice [U-bends, drain positioning, barge-board alignment] – if it hadn’t been for your excellent descriptions!!  I will probably still “miss” something – that’s the nature of building/design – but thanks to you, it shouldn’t be anything too mission-critical.

The income from my eBook pays for the upkeep of this blog, which is otherwise commercially free unlike so many others.

The wat in July 2017.

And now. It does have potential as long as they focus to complete it and then clean and landscape the surroundings. I reserve judgement.

This photo was taken in June. I was worried because the floor had previously been laid quickly in a very rough way, as you can see here, for an opening ceremony. Nothing had happened since then and I thought that if nothing was done the temple would lose it’s potential to become a beautifully detailed structure.

Thankfully for us wat enthusiasts, the floor has now been taken up and the boards are being cut to straighten the edges and then re-laid. There’s hope yet.

The boards now with straight edges. Look at the amazing thickness. You can see the finished floor taking shape under the stacked timber. This will end up stained to bring out the colours.

Underneath the main hall. Beautiful timber and colours.

It will outlast me that’s for sure.

Ad hoc and lateral thinking to make the structure come together.

This is Dit, the boss monk working on cutting boards. All forest wat monks are expected to be active in the building process and maintenance, unlike village monks who tend to be more laid back. If you visit a forest wat (one with Pa or Pha in its name) in the late afternoon you will often see all the monks out sweeping leaves off paths and roads. Forest wats are simple in their buildings but usually very neat.

The boss hands on. He’s a good carpenter too.

A new extension being put in place with the first huge tree trunk winched into place. There will be four of these supporting a roof. Can you spot the monk two thirds of the way up? If you ever want to build a temple this is your man. I have watched him in action for a couple of years and he’s always the one at the top of the scaffolding.

A closer view of the monk but the photo taken to show you the hand winch used to move that column into place.

The same monk in an earlier photo.


All those small plants in the front were originally cuttings provided to the temple by Gaun. An Isan tuk tuk in the background.

Another maybe good idea in the making but abandoned for now. This will either be a spectacular wat in a few years or a complete mess. I trust Dit and his vision and hope it is the former rather than the latter.

The small existing structure acting as the Buddha hall.

This structure, probably a monk’s space, at the back of the land is new (to me anyway). My observation is that there are many projects like this that have been started but then abandoned for something else. If I was project managing this development I would focus on finishing one structure before moving on, but not my problem.

One of the many wat ponds, which at the end of the wet season shows that we are way short of enough water to take us through six months of almost total dry.

This is another unfinished project. This was a lovely area with trees and landscaping but has been dug up to create this waterway in the making. Now eventually it may end up as an inspirational idea and a beautiful setting but I will wait and see. The black and green shade cloth structures on the left are protecting new durian fruit trees planted today be a group of villagers.

I passed Duk Dik the family dog on the way back to the farm waiting next to his ride home. Don’t make me walk 🙂

The location. We live just under Ban Nong Muang School on the map, the farm is almost exactly midway between the school and the wat, which is marked with a red pin.


Thanks for reading.


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  1. Jim Busby

    I like the more traditional heavy timber frame, unfortunately it is covered by this glossy modern roofing structure. Dit cutting lumber with a circular saw with his OSHA approved steel toed sandals! It must take hours to hand winch a column of that size into place. Very low water levels in those local waterways. Easy Rider DD!

    Take care,


    • Tony in Thailand

      Yes, the roof is pressed steel. One imagines Thailand being full of traditional crafts and building components, but generally not so. Some beautiful handmade roofing tiles made from local clay, as the bricks are, would do the job, but not to be. Interestingly those bricks are usually used in walls and then concreted over. All those lovely earthy colours hidden by ugly concrete and peeling paint never to be seen again. I would be the only person In Si Bun Ruang that have used them to make paths that can be appreciated every day. The water levels haven’t improved as there’s been no new significant rains since I Took those photos. Yes, DD could star in his own Isan movie!

  2. Alan Clark

    Hi Tony,

    I finally managed to get some spare time this morning to catch up on all of your posts from the last few weeks. Our house here is now complete and we moved in exactly one year to the day from arriving in Thailand. It was a bit of a leap of faith choosing the builder but, like you, we were lucky enough to find an excellent team and have ended up with a good quality home that I will be happy to live out the rest of my days in. Throughout the process it has been so reassuring to be able to refer back to your book as each new phase commenced, to confirm that things were going pretty much as they should. I don’t get as much time as I would like to be able to comment on your posts, but they are so inspirational – please keep them coming exactly as they are! As I am sure you found, even though the house is finished I suspect we are going to be kept far busier now that during the days of “supervising” the construction.

    I notice there is no longer a place to click on “I enjoyed this post”. Is this intentional, or has it got missed out of the web page re-design? Even though I don’t get much time to post comments it was nice to feel that in some small way I was helping to confirm to you that there are people out there following what you write.

    Best wishes, Tony, and keep up the good work.


    • Tony in Thailand

      Hi Alan. What a pleasure to hear from you. I am so happy to hear that you are well and truly in the new house. I bet that year has flown. Great news you found a decent crew to build the place. As always we tend to only hear the disasters, but there are plenty who get mostly what they want with liveable quality, as you and I have. I am also chuffed (is that still a word?) that you found the book useful. I shall add that comment to the recommendations as I am updating the book, although it is hard to sit in front of a computer when the weather is so pleasant, so it’s been a slow process.

      You are the second person to tell me about the missing ‘like’ button. It got lost in a redesign but I have incorporated it again today so thank you for that. I do enjoy just getting a ‘like’ as, although the blog will never be big-time because of the specialised nature of the topics, many people drop in and then leave with a trace. As it is almost totally non-commercial clicking on a button doesn’t seem too much to ask 🙂

      Thank you for getting in contact. Enjoy your home and the base it gives you to become involved in this wonderful country.


  3. Jenny

    I’ve a question for you Tony, and also for Greg, who commented on this post. Do the Thai’s not build dams? I know as an Aussie there are some issues with farmers not allowed to build dams on their land (ridiculous on one of the dryest continents), but why would the Thais not build dams to store water for dry seasons, not only for land owners but particularly for whole communities? I do not imagine for a minute that the Thai’s would not understand the concept, so why not do it?
    Interesting post. I do enjoy reading these!

    • Tony in Thailand

      Hi Jenny. Yes, there are dams in Thailand and here’s a link to an interesting well-written article on the whole topic of water storage HERE

      Thailand has no problems with dams on farmland and no approval is required unlike big brother Australia. They are mostly dug for free because soil is always needed for new building land to raise it above any flood levels (although not high enough in the recent major flooding further south). The person wanting soil pays and the farmer gets a free pond.

      I believe Thailand will have to rethink its planning for water storage because the monsoon rains just haven’t been happening, certainly since I have been here, and while dams and local storage are probably OK if topped up each year, they can’t cope with long term droughts, which may be more likely with climate change (not that it is happening of course). This year has been better but while flooding is not ideal at least those areas have water for the six month dry season. Where we are the ponds are almost dry and I have no idea how farmers will cope. More and more bores/well are dug but this can’t be an endless source and has to be topped up.

      This all requires leadership and long term planning from government, both of which are in short supply in today’s political systems across the world.

      Cheers. Tony

  4. Greg Carroll

    Hi Tony,
    Following our usual weekend routine of catching up on your writing. Always a pleasure and always informative. Sometimes in small subtle ways but always worth a read, then a re-read where Yuri points out something I missed. It continues to be a wonderful source of information and entertainment. With a good coffee, taking time to read your writing makes for a good start to the day.
    Looking forward to your eBook update too, and the next book waiting in the wings to be published…
    Your comments on the wat ponds at the end of the wet season really shines a light on how big the problem of water management is that I’ve been banging on about . The scale of the problem highlighted by recent and ongoing floods in many parts of the country. It does seem as if the country as a whole is oblivious to the problem. Witness the unfinished drainage project in the image above
    Another example close to home for Yuri and I: one of the main reservoirs for Surin was almost bone dry two months ago. An ideal opportunity to increase its capacity by removing the sediment build up that naturally occurs over time. But instead, nothing was done and now much of the wonderful recent rain has cascaded away over the spillway.
    On a related topic, the scale of those affected by recent flooding is staggering, but we see very little of it in the Thai media. We only really hear about it on social media, yet thousands of families have lost everything. With a shrug and a smile, people there just get on with it. Such stoicism and resilience is part of what makes Thais so special. Meanwhile back in Australia, we complain about the traffic delays from our daily commute…


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