Thursday, December 5, 2013

36. Nakhon Panom - That Panom - Nakhon Panom

Wat Phra That Panom

140 km

Today is the King's birthday, most of the shops here in Nakhon Panom remained closed, and the town felt even a little sleepier than yesterday when I arrived.  A beautiful sunrise over Laos and the river Mehkong woke me up; after breakfast I walked a bit the quiet streets.

Vietnamese Memorial and Bell Tower, downtown.
Built by returning Vietnamese exiles after the end of the Vietnam war to show their gratitude for Thai hospitality.

Looks like my dad's 230 CE (C123, 1980) which my mom gave away without telling me.
(I am still a little upset about that.)

Very unusual for Thailand: Catholic church on the river, with unusual steel bridge connection between bell towers.

Border station "Friendship Bridge III", 10 kilometers north of town.

Bridge to Laos.

Almost everybody sits in front of the TV this morning and watches the broadcast of the King's audience in the palace near Hua Hin, a rare occurrence; it seems that it is the first audience ever outside of Bangkok.

Watch the King's appearance and the good BBC commentary here:

I celebrated the King's birthday by visiting the former Governor's house in Nakhon Panom, directly on the river. It is a simple but beautiful building which was the site of the King and Queen's visit to the city, the first visit of any Thai ruler ever in this town. They came in 1955 and stayed for a few days, saw a regatta, and went to see the famous Wat Phra That Panom. (See below.)

The building fell in disrepair in the late 1950s and stood empty for more than 25 years. An initiative of university professors and the provincial government rescued the structure and restored it very well.

Museum Former Governor's House

Bedroom where the King and Queen slept on their visit in 1955.

Collection of items of the original inhabitant of the house, the Governor of Nakhon Panom.

German Loewe Opta "Bella Akkord" Tube Radio, approximately 1952.

Entrance lobby

In entrance lobby.
German Mauthe (Friedrich Mauthe, Schwenningen) Grandfather clock, approximately 1936.
(Note the removed German Eagle on the clock face)

All doors show above them a ventilation grill, in Spanish architecture called "ventana". A simple, non-mechanical device to provide excellent cross-ventilation in hot-humid climates.

The little villa is an excellent example that architecture doesn't need to be complicated, convoluted, ambiguous, or misleading to be good. Together with the true luxury in architectural design which is "Room Height", you get a very good building.

Some teachers from Nakhon Panom University, some 10 kilometers out of town, took the opportunity to use the Governors House as a backdrop for pictures of themselves in their King's birthday parade uniforms. 

The inevitable picture with the motorcycle needed to be done as well.

When I will be back in the U.S. I will petition my university for issuing such uniforms. We should not underestimate the power of the symbolic and formal. 

I wonder what they think when I do that. Maybe they let me go on an additional Sabbatical for reasons of re-establishing metal health.

I decided to do a short side trip to see the Wat Phra That Panom, one of the most important and sacred sites of Theravada Buddhism. Its main structure is a tall, brick Stupa which is said to contain the breastbone of Buddha. It was build in the 16th century, collapsed in the mid 1970s and was rebuilt to the original state. Today, on the national holiday, it was of course a destination for many Thais. Tourists cannot be found in this part of the country. 

The ride is only some 45 minutes long, on good roads, almost a straight shot, except for one single curve where a pickup driver managed to put the truck into the water-filled ditch. I stopped and together with others we checked on him, he was relatively OK, however the doors were jammed shut and no way for him to get out, or us to get them open; he needed to wait for the tow truck.

Just happen briefly before I came by, in the only curve between Nakhon Panom and That panom

With a few images of the famous Wat I will say good bye for today. There will be a little pause, the blogger needs to do some riding tomorrow, heading to the south-east, along the Cambodian border. 

I will be back soon!

Rice field maintenance

More rice field burning after harvest.

Colorful memorials in a Wat compound.
Below is a short picture novel. I watched the scene today on the river bank in That Panom, which actually wasn't so quiet at all. A lot of cross-river/border commerce went on. Of course one can take the brand-new Friendship bridge to neighboring Laos; however, much more convenient, and also immigration, and tax free is the way by boat. Here you see how one can transport two washing machines, a flat-screen TV, groceries and four satellite dishes in a small boat to Laos.

The snake sales person in front of the Wat.

Wat Pra That Panom.

No comments:

Post a Comment