Thursday, December 13, 2012

NAKHON PHANOM - THAILAND

The city of the mountains, is what Nakhon Phanom means. Now, there is no mountains here in the provincial capital of the province with the same name, but they are clearly visible on the other side of the Mekong River in Laos. 



Phra That Phanom Pagoda
Though it is so far away from Bangkok or any other large city, Nakhon Phanom has a rich history back in time of the Lan Xang Kingdom and in recent history during the Vietnam War. 








We love to drive up the roads next to the Mekong River and have done it several times. I personally love spending an important day, like a birthday, in this area. Sitting in an open air restaurant along the river and eating fresh fish and following the Thai concept of "sabai sabai" or relaxing and enjoying in English is one way to experience this area. 



The other way is of course to visit the many interesting and ancient temples with it's many important Buddha statues. Though we found that due to break-ins and theft many of the historic statues are now locked up, either permanently and no longer visible, or behind thick glass and bars. Often, our request to pay respect to the Buddha images was met with a more than sceptical expression and the comments and stories about people "ordering" images to be stolen. Hence we promised not to publish any of the rare images we were allowed to take from such Buddha statues. 
Temple of Phra That Phanom

The Mekong River is pretty wide here and mostly flows quietly down it's path, with the occasional fishing boat crossing. 

The pagoda of Phra That Phanom is the most significant temple of the area, going back to B.C. times when it was still a pagoda in Khmer style. Local people pointed us to several smaller temples with awesome mural paintings and also interesting temple structures. So bringing some extra time for further exploration up here is always a good idea, besides relaxing next to the river and enjoying the atmosphere of rural Isan. 







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