Khmer Ruins

Phra Lan Chai Archaeological Site

Posted on
wide view of shrine

Never excavated, little is known about Phra Lan Chai Archaeological Site (แหล่งโบราณคดีพระลานชัย), though the mix of laterite and sandstone along with the apparent size suggest the possibility it was a Khmer temple. When I asked about it in the village I was sent to an old man who told me that the local legend, which he heard when he was young, is that it was used for worship during late… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Prapha Chai Khmer Ruin

Posted on
view of prang seen through opening in outer wall

Sitting between Phrathat Kham Kaen (7.5km away) and the King Cobra Village (12km), two of Khon Kaen’s most popular tourist destinations, you’d expect Ku Prapha Chai (กู่ประภาชัย) to attract a fair number of visitors, but you will usually have this small Khmer ruin all to yourself. Made mostly of laterite, Ku Prapha Chai was built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) as a temple for one of the 102 arogayasala… Read More

History

Khmer Artifacts in the Khon Kaen National Museum

Posted on
many Khmer stone carvings on display

The Khon Kaen National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ ขอนแก่น), opened in 1972, has four small but interesting historical galleries with artefacts from around Upper Isan and is worth a look for anyone visiting Khon Kaen. Its most famous object, standing in the center of the Dvaravati wing, is a bai sema boundary stone of the Buddha’s wife, Princess Yasodhara (aka Bimpa Devi) cleaning the Buddha’s feet with her hair that was found… Read More

Culture

Confucius in Thailand

Posted on
statue of Confucius

One of the China’s foremost philosophers and political reformers, Confucius (ขงจือ/Kong Jeu in Thai) is a globally known icon of wisdom. Although there is scant evidence confirming any specific details, Confucius’ traditional life legend has a distinct lack of drama, success, and supernatural, which gives it far more credence than the magical background stories of most Chinese mortals who were later transformed into deities. Though there are, unsurprisingly, alternative Confucian… Read More

Miscellaneous

How To Pronounce Laos in English

Posted on
students in uniform walking across the street

You don’t need to spend much time in Southeast Asia before you notice how many English-speakers pronounce Thailand’s northeastern neighbor as “Lao” without an s sound. The s is silent, they say. But as every English dictionary (click to listen: American and British) will tell you, Laos does indeed rhyme with “house.” (In IPA it’s /ˈlaʊs/.) Usually two reasons are given by those using the no-s Lao: the locals say… Read More

History

Khmer Artifacts in the Suan Pakkad Palace Museum

Posted on
Buddha with both hands raised

Centered on eight traditional Thai teak buildings (four old and four new) in a quiet garden, the Suan Pakkad Palace Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์วังสวนผักกาด) is an underappreciated exhibition of Thai art, from khon masks to Ban Chiang pottery. Once the home of Prince Chumbon of Nakhon Sawan (son of King Rama 5) and his wife, and before that a vegetable farm, the “Cabbage Patch Palace” is a great place to visit, though… Read More

Temples

Wat Lang Khao Bottle Temple

Posted on
bottle ubosot seen from a distance

Wat Lang Khao (วัดหลังเขา) is a rather remote and ordinary temple in most regards, but it attracts a trickle of visitors because of its bot khuat (“bottle ubosot”), arguably the most beautiful example of bottle temple art in Thailand. Most of the ubosot’s decoration is typically Thai, but all the green on the walls and roof comes from 620ml Chang beer bottles. Locals gathered and donated tens of thousands of… Read More

Miscellaneous

How to Say “Farang” in Thai Sign Language

Posted on
boy at coffee shop showing sign for farang

This is how you say farang (“Western foreigner”) in Thai sign language. The word farang is often mistakenly assumed to come from the Thai word for France, farang-seet. It’s actually derived from a Persian word for the Franks, a powerful federation of Germanic tribes during the first millennium BCE, and was adapted by Thais to use with Westerners before the first European ship ever sailed into Ayutthaya. But, it seems… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Phimai Khmer City Gates, Moat, and Barays

Posted on
wooden house and western gate

Many people visiting the amazing Prasat Phimai temple are unaware that in its day it stood at the heart of a large important city. Lying on the Mun River and along overland trade routes to the north and south, as well as having abundant salt deposits (there are none near Angkor), Phimai city prospered on trade during its time in the Khmer empire. And many remnants of the town infrastructure… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Kuti Ruesi Noi Khmer Ruin

Posted on
main sanctuary

Kuti Ruesi Noi (กุฏิฤาษีน้อย), just 450m south of the southern city gate, was the temple for one of the 102 arogayasala (hospitals) that King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) had built around the empire. It follows the standard arogayasala design in most regards. It faces roughly to the east, in line with Phimai temple and town. It’s quite incomplete – none of the walls are tall and some are gone entirely… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Noen Wat Khok Khmer Ruin

Posted on
laterite wall and line of laterite

Noen Wat Khok (เนินวัดโคก) was a small temple in its day, but it was likely quite an important one. Like West Mebon in the Angkor region, Noen Wat Khok sat prominently on an island in the middle of a massive baray. Now almost entirely silted in and used mostly for agriculture (though it’s still clearly recognizable when seen from above), the old Phimai Baray stretches 750m by 1800m, the biggest… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Tha Nang Sra Phom Khmer Pier

Posted on
view of the pier from across the river

Just over a kilometer south of Phimai city’s southern gate and directly centered along the axis of the temple and town, Tha Nang Sra Phom (ท่านางสระผม) is the only preserved Khmer-era boat landing known in Thailand. Likely built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219), it’s a simple cruciform platform made entirely of laterite with very steep stairs on three of the sides. When it was excavated the archaeologists found post… Read More

Khmer Ruins

San Pu-Ta Ban Wang Hin Khmer Ruin

Posted on
small forested hill

Less than 100m from the south shore of the old Phimai Baray, San Pu-Ta Ban Wang Hin (ศาลปู่ตา บ้านวังหิน) is lined up with the Prasat Phimai’s soaring prang, 3.6km away, instead of being lined up with the baray, suggesting it may have once been an important temple. It’s age and purpose are unknown and nothing ancient – no pottery shards, bricks, or building blocks – is visible now. The few… Read More

History

Meru Brahmathat

Posted on
ruined brick stupa on a hill seen from below

Just two hundred meters away from the entrance to Prasat Phimai, but unrelated to it or the Khmer empire in any way, Meru Brahmathat (เมรุพรหมทัต) is a toppled brick stupa from the 18th century (late Ayutthaya era). It sits atop a man-made hill and including this it’s about thirty meters tall now; though it was clearly much bigger when built. While not in very good condition, it does present a… Read More

Folktales

The Legend of Nang Oraphim and Thao Pajit

Posted on
two statues of torsos in Phimai National Museum

The classic love story between Nang Oraphim (นางอรพิม) and Thao Pajit (ท้าวปาจิต) is a widely known Thai folktale (some even consider it a non-canonical Jataka tale) with many different versions. The story as told in Khorat province is based on the town of Phimai where locals have declared the ruined Meru Brahmathat stupa as the cremation site of the villainous King Brahmathat. Some locals take the story one step further… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Sra Pleng Ancient Quarry

Posted on
rock wall with cut marks

Sra Pleng Quarry (ลานหินตัดสระเพลง) is hidden away in a forest at the foot of the Sankamphaeng Mountains in the south-central part of Ta Phraya National Park. A geologist from the Ministry of Mineral Resources who visited identified this grey sandstone as from the Phu Kradung Formation, which dates to around 150 million years ago. Geological maps of Thailand I’ve seen show this area to be the younger Sao Khua or… Read More

Buddhism

Biography of Luang Paw Koon Kantigo, a Former Abbot of Wat Nong Wang

Posted on
painting of people getting on and off a very busy train

The idea for Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa, the famous centerpiece of Wat Nong Wang temple in Khon Kaen city, came from the highly respected Phra Tama Wisut Tajan, the then abbot of the temple. Usually called Luang Paw Koon Kantigo, his life story is told in these mural paintings on the stupa’s fourth floor. อ่านภาษาไทยที่นี่ (Click here to read a Thai version.). Thanks to Suttawan Bewer, Chutima Intarapanich, and… Read More

Buddhism

The Reclining Buddhas of Thailand

Posted on
large reclining Buddha in Entering Nirvana posture with designs painted on soles of feet

In most of the world, reclining Buddha images represent the Buddha at his death. But in Thailand this is usually not the case. Of the seven reclining postures used in Thailand, two are the Buddha on his death bed, one shows him passing to nirvana, and two are for his cremation; but all of these are rather rare. And none of these is the classic hand-holding-up-his-head posture, which tells a… Read More

Buddhism

The Buddha’s Life Story (Part 1) at Wat Nong Wang

Posted on
woodcarving of Prince Siddhattha seeing an old man and a sick man

The carved wooden doors on the sixth floor of Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang tell many of the main episodes from the Buddha’s life up to and including his enlightenment. The artist was Tawon Gonkaew. The story begins at the northeast corner on the east wall (in front of the stairs) and is told counterclockwise around the stupa. The Buddha’s life story continues down below on… Read More

Buddhism

The Buddha’s Life Story (Part 2) at Wat Nong Wang

Posted on
woodcarving of the Buddha walking with many disciples

The carved wooden doors and window shutters on the fifth floor of Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang tell some episodes (the story is far from complete) from the Buddha’s life following his enlightenment. The story begins at the northeast corner on the east wall (in front of the stairs) and is told counterclockwise around the stupa. The first half of the Buddha’s tale is told up… Read More

Page 1 of 8
1 2 3 4 8