Wat Phothisomphon is probably the most impressive temple complex in Udon Thani city. It contains 20 or so buildings, some dating back to the reign of King Rama V(1868 – 1910).
The gray and gold chedi is probably the most impressive, and possibly newest building.
I’ve seen a few Phaya Naga that seem to be swallowing each other like those above. I asked my tilac what it means, and she said it doesn’t mean anything, it just looks cool.
A chedi usually contains relics, and if I understand correctly Wat Phothisomphon’s chedi is no exception. Relics are usually bone fragments of the Buddha. I feel like I saw enough bone fragments to make up several skeletons, in my time in Thailand, but never mind.
This temple is very focused on various revered monks, as well as the Buddha of course.
The topmost floor is the most beautiful, with great paintings on the walls and what looks like a City Pillar in the center. Udon Thani’s City Pillar Shrine is elsewhere though; I posted about it previously.
From the upper floors of the chedi you get a good view of the entire temple complex.
A crematorium can be recognized by the tall narrow smokestack. This one is one of the more beautiful buildings in the Wat Phothisomphon temple complex.
One of the buildings that flank the chedi houses a long line of monk figures.
The Ban Chiang Museum offers visitors a look at various artifacts and provides information about the site and its historical importance.
My first impression of the museum was of its focus on King Bhumibol Adulyadej‘s visit to the site, the questions he asked and the comments he made. He did donate money that helped the project to proceed. My second impression was of the space spent on showing what archeological digs look like.
The museum does display a lot of different artifacts from the site.
With few such projects happening previously in Thailand, this one offered a lot of history that was unknown before. For example, this archeological dig revealed that Thailand entered its Bronze Age around 2000 BCE.
The museum grounds feature attractive gardens and art.
The area around the museum has clearly benefited economically from the archeological site and museum. The street is filled with gift shops like those shown below as well as restaurants and cafes.
Lum Khut 1 Ban Chiang World Heritage Site
Lum Khut 1 Ban Chiang World Heritage Site is next to Wat Pho Si Nai, just down the road from the museum.
This site is a dig left in a state that allows the public to appreciate what was found by archaeologists.
A structure shelters the dig from the elements and creates a museum-like environment.
Phuttha Utthayan Wat Pa Dong Rai
Phuttha Utthayan Wat Pa Dong Rai, located a 20 minute drive from the museum, is a small temple shaped like a lotus flower floating on a lake.
Food can be purchased for feeding the fish in the lake, which go into a satisfying frenzy.
A sign for the temple features red painted pottery, and also sheep for some reason.
The inside is beautifully painted.
We didn’t spend much time exploring the surrounding area, but we did visit a captive alligator held nearby.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 27 pictures below.
The Mekong River is the primary home of the Phaya Naga. Thai cities often have “mascots”, and the mascot of Nong Khai is clearly the Phaya Naga. A pair of really excellent Phaya Naga welcome you to the city (above).
A pair of equally outstanding, and very large, Phaya Naga greet you at the Mekong River (below).
A big draw for Nong Khai is the Naga Fireball Festival held during Buddhist Lent at the end of October, when Naga fireballs are said to be most common. Fireballs resembling an orange sun, varying in size from sparks to basketball sized orbs, rise from the Mekong River to as high as hundreds of feet into the sky.
Naga fireballs are believed by some to be exhaled by Phaya Naga. I wish I had attended the festival, in part because I find it surprising that it seems to include fireworks, suggesting a lack of concern with really knowing what you’re seeing. Thai people do love the supernatural, and love seeing Naga fireballs during the festival.
The video below examines the scientific and supernatural views on the Naga fireball phenomenon.
Sala Kaew Ku is Nong Khai’s other big draw. The most photographed sculpture at Sala Kaew Ku is probably Sulilat’s unique, and enormous, take on the Naga Buddha.
Along the Mekong River there are all forms of Phaya Naga, like the ones that top the lamp posts.
Phaya Naga also adorn the fence along the river.
Looking across the Mekong into Laos you can see a fairly nice temple complex.
You can also see a number of houses. They look similar to houses in northern Thailand.
There are house boats along the Thai side of the river.
The Thai-Lao Friendship bridge was largely funded by a gift to the Lao government from the Australian government. The picture below shows the bridge in the distance, and also some fairly large house boats.
Several temples are among the buildings lining the Thai side of the river.
They include a Chinese style temple.
Nong Khai has an aquarium that features some of the surprisingly large fish found in the Mekong River.
It’s a small aquarium, but it does feature a shark tunnel. This is the first I’ve seen, so I can’t offer a comparison. Flash photography is prohibited in the aquarium, but I was able to shoot video.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 16 pictures below.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.