If Disneyland’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster catapults your heart to the tip of your tongue and the sweet smell of candyfloss brings back memories of pickpockets and lost credit card hell, then maybe Sala Keo Kou in Nong Khai is the perfect place to remind you that life and its quieter moments can still offer breathtaking experiences and heart thumping moments.
At a healthy twenty baht entrance fee the magnificent giant sculptures of Sala Keo Kou are set amongst gentile tropical gardens and rate as a must see attraction if your destination is Nong Khai.
The concrete sculptures are the work of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and his band of followers, a community of over 100 men and women who lived on the grounds and gave their labour for free.
Bunleua Sulilat (1932-1996) was a Thai born spiritual cult leader and concrete sculpture artist. When he was younger stories allege that whilst out walking in the mountains, he fell down a hole and into a cave where a kind hermit named Keoku lived. The hermit taught Bunleua Sulilat about Buddhism and Buddhist mythology.
After many years of scholarship from Keoku, Bunleua ventured into Laos and in 1958 started constructing the Buddha Park, near Vientiane. Twenty years later on the other side of the Mekong River, Bunleua commenced work on this magnificent sculpture park three kilometres east of Nong Khai. The statues feature both Buddhist and Hindu mythological figures and also illustrate many scenes from the life of the Lord Buddha.The Sala Keo Kou Pavilion pictured above, houses the mummified body of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat who died after a lengthy illness in 1996.
The sculpture park always attracts many Thai visitors and markedly more so on public holidays. On the occasions that I have visited this beautiful site there has also been a good number of foreign onlookers taking in the sheer beauty and craftsmanship that the giant sculptures hold.
One of the main features is The Buddhist Wheel of Life, a collection of sculptures that follow the Buddhist path from birth through their life cycle, childhood, marriage, old age, death and eventual rebirth into a better life as reward from the merits made in their previous one.
Sala Keo Kou also offers you the chance to feed fish in a well stocked pond and has a garden centre that sells a wide variety of cactus.
The sculture park is an excellent way to spend a few hours of your free time and is easily reachable from Nong Khai. Just make sure your camera battery is fully charged and ready to capture the amazing tour of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat’s Sala Keo Kou.
Credits Top Photograph Sala Keo Kou by Jpatokal
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