Up early this morning to visit the Sala Kaew Ku sculpture park, just outside Nong Khai. Built by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat to express his Hindu-Bhuddist vision, it contains dozens of enormous concrete depictions of gods, Buddhas, myths and people.
It’s somewhere between a park, a temple and a playground. There were plenty of Thai people visiting while we were there, including some monks, but it was hard to tell whether their motivation was spiritual or they were there for the spectacle.
Finding a forest of bizarre statues in such ordinary surroundings is part of the delight. The seven headed naga (a snake-like creature) rises 25 metres above the surrounding village, its ornate carved tongues sinuously licking the air. Meanwhile, you can literally walk the circle of life around a path of statues, entering through a narrow tunnel (can you see where he’s going with this?) and moving through childhood, work, love, family and, finally, death, after which you exit through the tunnel again into the realm of the gods.
He actually started a similar sculpture park on the other side of the Mekong in Laos in the fifties, but fled the revolution in 1975 and started a bigger, better, badder creation in his new Thai home.
Click on the photos to see the full image.