Road to Issan

Pra Phu Bat is fascinating, almost like an Asian Stonehenge. In the middle of a huge, wild forest you find incredible human built rock formations and cave paintings that predate Buddhism by thousands of years. Interestingly, you also find that these same formations were integrated into Buddhist culture, so that you have a mix of ancient and Buddhist working together. I have never seen anything like it before.

Phu Foilom is no less fascinating, the highest temple in Thailand I was told.The temple is not the most interesting feature being relatively modern and still under construction. The real interest is the monks, who all live in isolation in the forest.


They total about 300, one of the larger forest monk communities I believe. Their dwellings range from very basic to somewhat sublime and are often sited on the edge of huge precipices. The life is basic and hermit-like. The monks gather together in the temple several times a day. They work on building the temple. Otherwise they live in complete isolation. There is a connecting water system, which is obviously important, an it is rather amusing to find public conveniences set in the middle of nowhere!


The Loy Kratong festival was a bonus. We got stuck behind a procession and decided to stop and look.

UdonLoyKratong51.JPGEveryone from the village was in the procession which was full of color, verve, dancing, smiling and celebration.

With their rather mundane daily lives, the villagers use the festival as a means of genuine celebration. It was great to watch and, in my view only, festivals such as Loy Kratong are much more important in thevillages than the cities. Perhaps this is why so many Thais escape from Bangkok to their hometowns at times such as Loy Kratong and Songkran.

Visit Udon if you get the chance. It is a very different part of Thailand but also a very honest view of Thailand. I have an admitted bias for the Thai countryside but I cannot believe that anyone would fail to be moved by and to enjoy what they see.


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