We spent the night at the Nakhonphanom River View Hotel in Nakhon Panom. While probably the best hotel in the city, it could benefit from a refurbishing. We enjoyed good service and a decent breakfast buffet, which included excellent coffee. The room was clean but some of the fixtures are in need of repair. The WiFi service was not available and the pool was down for maintenance during our visit but I’m sure both of those are temporary. To the hotel’s credit we were informed about the pool prior to arrival and we decided to stay there anyway. Given the options available, we would stay there again.
As part of the celebrations for the End of Buddhist Lent, Nakhon Panom was hosting its annual long boat festival with roughly 65 teams from Thailand and Lao competing. That morning we watched some of the long boat races and fed an elephant. Guys were just walking around the street with their elephants following along behind them like puppies. You give the handler 50 cents and he gives you some sugar cane to feed the elephant. While we really didn’t stick around long enough to get too involved with the outcome of the races, this really is a very colorful event worth attending.
Also of interest in Nakhon Panom any time of the year is the Wat That Phanom Temple overlooking the Mekong directly across the street from the boat racing venue.
From there, we headed roughly 50 miles south to Renu Nakhon to visit both the Cotton Weaving Village and famous Wat Phra That Temple located there. The earliest structures at this Lao style temple are reported to be over 2500 years old and the gold covered Chedi is said to contain the chest bone of Lord Buddha. While not crowded on the day we visited, people from all over Thailand make pilgrimage to Wat Phra That every year to be in the presence of this sacred icon.
Our first stop in the weaving village was the local co-operative where fabrics from various local sources are sold. While we had seen it before, we enjoyed a demonstration of the cotton weaving process. After we bought a few things at the co-operative, we got directions to one of houses where some of the weavings had been made. We got in the general vicinity and stopped at a little store to get additional directions. The directions were a little confusing so the lady minding the store called a friend to come take over at the store and jumped in our van to take us to the workshop.
We bought a few things and asked the ladies there who else in town we should visit and they gave directions to another workshop. Once we got there we liked what we saw but it was similar to the things we had already bought. It turns out that much of what the ladies are making in these home workshops is actually commissioned work so much of it displays similar themes. But when working on their own designs, the weavings take on new characteristics.
So we asked “Do you have anything special?” Immediately 2-3 of the ladies at this workshop went off to their homes and came back with some really unusual pieces that we loved. Even Nook Tourguide was impressed with the work and bought some things for her mother.
From Renu Nakhon, we headed a little northwest to the city of Sakon Nakhon, which was hosting the annual Wax Castle Festival celebrating the end of Buddhist Lent.
Click here to see a video that includes Phu Phra Bat Historical Park and a wonderful lunch both from one day before this discussion. This video also includes scenes from the annual Nakhon Panom Long Boat Races and a few cuts from Wat Phra That in Renu Nakhon.
Click here for a video that begins in Renu Nakhon Weaving Village and then goes to the Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival.