This was a quick one night stop for us on way south to Bangkok and Cambodia, but we had to visit the Indian Temple, just out of town. This is the nickname for Luang Pu's Thai version of what we had seen a couple of days earlier in Laos (just across the river). The official name is Sala Kaew Ku. These sculptures were built between 1975 and 1996 when he died, and they are even bigger! In fact, they are positively huge - see the photos, and a lot more refined than his Laos efforts. Perhaps he had better students to help him! Overall, we actually preferred the park in Laos as it was in a grassy field, and seemed more original (perhaps to us).
The weirdest thing is though, that Luang Pu gained a lot of followers (worshippers even) and his body is enshrined in state on the top floor of the main building in the park. And it is now open to the public, so this is the first dead body we have seen on tour, and I thought the first one would be Ho Chi Minh! But according to the old man who showed us around, as we peered through the window at this lifeless form, he says that they are not making any effort to preserve the body, and yet it is still fully preserved, and he reckons the hair is still growing - well we were not so sure about all this of course, but had to play along with it to keep the old fella happy.
During our time in this area, including Laos, we thought might get lucky and see some of the rocket festival, which is a regional festival for calling the rains at the end of the dry season. It is a bit of a hair raising party where they build bamboo rockets, and these are serious rockets, not just your average guy fawkes skyrocket! After asking around, no one seemed to be able to give us any ideas, but sure enough while we were out at the Indian Temple, we saw a couple of missiles, shall we say, go about a km into the air (calling for rain!). As I said these were pretty serious things. No fancy colours - just explosive and aiming very high! It turns out, we missed the first two days of the festival. The first day is when they parade the rockets through Nong Khai on the backs of lorries. Some rockets are several metres long!. 2nd day is spent getting drunk, and appropriately the 3rd day is launch day. At least they take the precaution to go to the countryside for this. The owner of the highest rocket wins, the ones that do not get off the ground get covered in mud!
Oh, and once again we stayed in a pretty cool place. A renovated old Thai-Chinese shophouse, and had a pretty good Vietnamese meal by the river (getting in some practise!)