In Nong Khai there’s a park filled with giant statuary depicting Naga, Buddha, Gods, Demons and Devils, as well as depictions of moral tales.
This park, Salakeoku, is the product of one man’s dedication with his faith. Launpou Bounleua Souliliath found his faith at an early age and despite trouble with his family, he persevered, leaving the home as a child to live with and study under the highest monk in Wat Sisaket. Later, he lived a life similar to that of the Reusi, traveling as a monk, meditating, living in caves, and walking alone even in areas with dangerous wild animals and bandits. As he traveled, he saw Bangkok and other areas and grew to disdain the lifestyle that most people were leading.
Although he had friends and supporters, his also attracted enemies, some of whom wanted to kill him. At the age of thirty, he returned to Laos to care for his parents. He survived the war in Lao and was captured and jailed, but was eventually released. Years later, his father and mother passed away at the ages of 99 and 95 respectively. They left hims some land, some of which became the park you see today as Salakeoku. At one point Salakeoku became embroiled in politics as people fought for control of the funds from the donation box and various charges were hurled back and forth. Construction during this period stopped and you can see some unfinished work as you look at the park today. (see footnote) Launpou Bounleua Souliliath passed away in 1996. Without the charismatic man, donations have fallen, but the faithful keep the park operating.
Funds from the sale of tickets, and what donations still come in, are used for the maintenance of the park.
Note: Also spelled a variety of ways such as Sala Keo Ku, Sala Keoku, Sala Gaew Goo, etc… This park is also known by one other name, Wat Khaek.
Awesome video & my personal reflections after the jump! (really! don’t miss the video! :))
I was in awe when I entered this place. The first thing I noticed was the giant Naga towering over everything else. It was so big, that black birds that circled and landed on it were like insects by comparison. As we walked further and further into the park, there was one interesting statue after another. Each statue or display had its own moral or religious tale related on a plaque nearby. School children arrived by the bus load to see the park and there were many Thai tourists (and just a couple foreigners). Here’s my video take of the place:
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Ah, and because I’m an amulet collector I picked this up there:
This is an amulet created to ward off black magic. It is constructed of a small shell, wrapped in some kind of twine that has been treated and contains a small takrud in the back. Total height is slightly more than one inch.