Quick note: I am very happy that I altered my plans to include runs to Ubon, Udon and Nong Khai. These cities have fully immersed me in daily Thai life and some very worthwhile attractions.
On my bicycle tour of Nong Khai, I visited the well-known sculpture garden of Sala Kaew Ku (a.k.a. Wat Khaek). The strange towering concrete works of art are just as strange as the story behind their construction. Laotian artist fleeing communist repression in his homeland in 1975 stumbles upon a hermit in the mountains. The hermit, a yogi-priest-shaman (Sounds like Yoda he does.) accepts him in his cave and becomes his spirirtual teacher. When the Laotian artist emerges from underground years later, he masterminds the construction of these enormouse sculptures, all of which represent the Wheel of Life based on the teachings of his spiritual guru. The circumbant and perpetual journey “begins” with “the extrordinary chance of your existantnce”, the union of your mother and father, and continue onward into childhood, adulthood, marriage, adultery, sickness and death. Unfortunately the park’s titles and signage had no English translation so I could not follow the circle in order.
I pedalled onward to Wat Po Chai, a beautifully ornate temple with monks’ quarters on the grounds. The ceiling of the Wat was particularly impressive and told the story of the temple’s centerpiece gold and bronze Buddha. Sinking in the river during transport, it was thought to be a miracle when 25 years later the Buddha floated up to the surface of the water.