Wat That Khon Kaen

cloister around the stupa at Wat That

While Wat Nong Wang is Khon Kaen’s largest and most interesting temple, and the city’s only must-see attraction, Wat That (วัดธาตุ) at the other end of Bueng Kaen Nakhon lake is also worth visiting. Its soaring stupa and ubosot, which make a beautiful backdrop to views from across the lake, are frequently described by travel writers as classic Isan/Lao design, but both are actually Central Thai style. Wat That was founded in… Read More

Wat Pho Ban Nontan Meditation Hall Art

picture of turtles carrying books on their back on Wat Pho Nontan meditation hall

Nobody knows when Wat Pho Ban Nontan began, but the many clay Buddhas found here show that it is very old. It was upgraded around 1789, when Khon Kaen city was founded on the other side of the lake. Up until the mid-20th century, it remained surrounded mostly by wilderness. Though the city has now engulfed it, the temple retains the wilderness connections as best as it can with some… Read More

Corpse Meditation Murals at Wat Um Long

Wat Um Long corpse meditation mural

The small old ubosot at Wat Um Long in Thoen, Lampang province, is interesting and unusual in many ways. The most interesting for me is that the majority of interior wall space is covered with murals of a monk doing corpse meditation. (The rest are scenes from the life of the Buddha.) This is not an uncommon subject matter for inclusion in temple paintings, but it’s rare for it to… Read More

The Buddha Nearing Death at Wat Yang Tuang Wararam

close up of buddha vomiting on mural painting at wat yang tuang wararam

The Buddha died of dysentery after eating his final meal. Specifically what that meal was is unknown, but the traditional account says it was spoiled pork. Some people (including many Westerners who are uncomfortable with the idea of the Buddha eating meat, even though his meat eating and his explicit rejection of requiring monks to be vegetarian is discussed in the Pali Canon many times) have decided that the dish,… Read More

Mural Paintings of “Kalam” at Wat Nong Wang

Buddhist temple mural painting of woman tying a mut mee silk pattern.

อ่านภาษาไทยที่นี่ (Click here to read a Thai version.) The second-floor murals inside Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang temple show kalam (คะลำ), an Isan word meaning “things people should not do.” Many of these social rules are about showing proper respect to those with higher status than you, but others cover safety, manners, etc. Even traditions that the modern age has made obsolete, such as #27 (because most houses now have… Read More

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