Khmer Ruins

Prang Phakho Khmer Ruin

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front view of library at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin

Casual travelers probably won’t be too impressed by the modest remains of Prang Phakho (ปรางศ์พะโค), but it has some unusual features that Khmer enthusiasts will definitely want to see. Built in the 11th century, it presently consists of just two buildings: an east-facing central prang and one “library” in front. However, the ruins showed there was a second library across from the surviving one, and since three lotus-bud tops were… Read More

Culture

Boon Kathin Photo Essay

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front of procession going to temple for Kathin celebration

These photos are from the Boon Kathin (บุญกฐิน) festival for Wat Pa Ming Muang on the south side of Khon Kaen city on November 26-28, 2018. (Note that, despite the name, this is a regular maha-nigay temple, not a thammayut forest temple.) Thanks to Paw Sawai and Mae Nuwiang, who organized this event, Luang Ta Tawee Rattanabunyo for answering my many Kathin questions, and everyone else for being so welcoming.… Read More

Culture

Boon Ok Phansa Photo Essay

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candles lit around the temple during Ok Phansa

These photos are from the Boon Ok Phansa (บุญออกพรรษา) celebrations at Wat Pho Sri, Ban Sila village, Amphoe Mueang, Khon Kaen on October 23 to 25, 2018. Thanks to Phra Maha Rueangrit Patara Muni and many other people at the temple for helping me out. A full explanation of Boon Ok Phansa and an overview of heet sip-song, the twelve Isan merit-making traditions, are found on other pages.   The… Read More

Buddhism

Vessantara Jataka Murals at Wat Nong Wang

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Vessantara Jataka mural of gods caring for Prince Vessantara's children while Jujaka sleeps in a tree

The third-floor murals inside Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang temple in Khon Kaen city tell the story of Prince Vessantara (Phra Wetsandon in Thai). It’s the last of the 547 Jataka tales, a collection of birth stories from the Pali Canon (the Buddhist equivalent of the Bible) recounting some of the Buddha-to-be’s pre-enlightenment lives. The Jataka tales are, for the most part, morality stories in which… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Sra Pleng Khmer Ruin

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Prang Sra Pleng Khmer ruin

Not much of Prang Sra Pleng (ปรางค์สระเพลง), now sitting in a small grove of trees surrounded by rice paddies, remains standing, though there is just enough to give visitors an impression of how this Khmer ruin used to be. Based mostly on the style of the sandstone doorframe, Prang Sra Pleng appears to have been a Hindu shrine for an arogayasala (hospital) built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1219). And… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Ban Prang Khmer Ruin

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piece of pediment at Prang Ban Prang Khmer ruin

The ruins of Prang Ban Prang (ปรางค์บ้านปรางค์) are in an inconspicuous grove of trees in the middle of a little village. Driving past you’d pay it no mind if it weren’t for the two large signs marking it as a historic site. The temple had a single prang built of sandstone and brick on a laterite base. While most of it lies buried in dirt, many pieces (mostly sandstone, but… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prasat Nong Phak Rai Khmer Ruin

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sandstone statue base at Prasat Nong Phak Rai Khmer ruin

Almost nothing is known about Prasat Nong Phak Rai (ปราสาทหนองผักไร). There’s nothing visible that reveals the history (Perhaps an excavation would shed some light – but not necessarily because holes dug by looters have been reported.) and it isn’t even registered by the Fine Arts Department. Prasat Nong Phak Rai is in a small grove of trees on a low mound amidst rice paddies. It isn’t truly remote, but it… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Kaew Chaiyaram Khmer Ruin

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two yoni and lotus bud top at Ku Kaew Chaiyaram Khmer ruin

Ku Kaew Chaiyaram (กู่แก้วชัยราม) was once a single prang with a mandapa at the front, but it collapsed completely and the remains now lie almost entirely buried under a large concrete base. The ruins sit on an east-west axis and so the temple almost certainly faced east. Someday this base will hold an ubosot, but for now there are twin shrines on top. In front is an ordinary Buddha shrine… Read More

Food

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Siamese Senna

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Siamese Senna flowers and seed pods

Thai Name – Kee-lek (ขี้เหล็ก)       Scientific Name – Senna siamea       Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)       Other English Names – kassod tree, cassod tree, Siamese cassia, Thai cassia, yellow cassia       Flowering Season – Year-round       Native to Thailand – Yes       Typical Height – 10-20 meters       Siamese senna has beautiful bright yellow flowers with five scoop-shaped petals that burst out of a pea-sized bud. When viewed from up close, the long (15-25cm) flat… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Sak Photo Essay

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woman wrapping fish in a banana leaf

These photos are from the Boon Khao Sak (บุญข้าวสาก) celebration in Ban Khok Sawang, Waeng Yai district, Khon Kaen province on September 24, 2018. Special thanks to Yai Lune and Mae Saithip for taking such good care of us in the village. A full explanation of Boon Khao Sak and an overview of heet sip-song, the twelve Isan merit-making traditions, are found on other pages. Early morning activities at the… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Pradap Din Photo Essay

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taking food to the temple at night for Boon Khao Pradap Din

These photos are from the Boon Khao Pradap Din (บุญข้าวประดับดิน) celebration in the little village of Ban Kham Pia, Khon Kaen province, on September 8 and 9, 2018. Locals here call it Boon Khao Noi (“Little Food”) and the similar Boon Khao Sak ceremony that follows two weeks later is called Boon Khao Yai (“A Lot of Food) since more food is given at the latter. Thanks to Mae Teem… Read More

Nature

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Lanete

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lanete tree flower

Thai Name – Mok man (โมกมัน)       Scientific Name – Wrightia arborea       Family Name – Apocynaceae       Other English Names – Ivory, tree, dhudhi, woolly dyeing rosebay       Flowering Season – April-August       Native to Thailand – Yes       Typical Height – 8-20 meters       Not a showy tree, lanetes have small (4-6cm) white widely spaced flowers; subtle but beautiful. It begins with five simple outer petals curving backwards and then later a small yellow-ish or… Read More

Folktales

Nang Phom Hom, “The Fragrant-Haired Lady” (Long Version)

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Nang Phom Hom story painted on window shutters at Wat Nong Wang

This version of the Nang Phom Hom folktale is based on the paintings on the third-floor window shutters and doors of Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang temple in Khon Kaen city. It’s much longer than the story as it’s normally told, but overall the plot is the same. And though I wrote it strictly following the outline provided by these 88 paintings and the brief poem… Read More

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Culture

Boon Khao Phansa Photo Essay

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monk walking on front of a Khao Phansa candle parade float with the Thao Suranari Monument and Chumphon Gate on it

These photos are from the Boon Khao Phansa (บุญเข้าพรรษา) celebration in Khorat city on July 27 and 28, 2018. Most of the parade float-making photos were taken on July 19. Thanks to Ajahn Mai at Wat Nong Bua Rong for answering so many questions. A full explanation of Boon Khao Phansa and an overview of heet sip-song, the twelve Isan merit-making traditions, are found on other pages. Boon Khao Phansa,… Read More

Culture

Ground-Floor Isan Culture Murals at Wat Nong Wang

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mural of fifth khong

This is the second of two pages explaining the ground-floor murals inside Wat Nong Wang’s Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa. These murals are all about Isan culture. Murals #1-23, about Khon Kaen history and the general introduction about the murals are on the first page. อ่านภาษาไทยที่นี่ (click here to read a Thai version)   Northeastern Way of Life (24) Land of the Kaen. Khon Kaen is known to some as… Read More

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