We got an early start out of Ubon Ratchathani City and by mid-morning made it to Wat Phrasart Sra Kampeang Noi, a Khmer style temple ruins. As we arrived, we saw a few villagers and some of the younger monks setting out woven mats around a shrine inside the walls of a stone enclosure. Eventually more and more villagers arrived carrying baskets filled with small bags of rice, bottled water, flowers and other gifts. The villagers found a place to sit, some in family groups and some others in groups of friends. We noticed how beautifully the ladies were dressed with their clothes fashioned from gorgeous fabrics.
We were graciously accepted and several groups offered mats and invited us to sit by them. There was a festive feeling in the air. When the monks entered the enclosure they circled around the shrine, accepting alms from the villagers. While giving alms to the monks is a daily occurrence at many temples, this day was the official End of Buddhist Lent so the ceremony took on special significance. The volume of alms that the monks were collecting was so great that young men followed behind the monks who periodically would empty their bowls into large bags which were eventually filled to the brim.
After the ceremony, we drove to the Ban Tha Sawang Silk Weaving Village; famous for producing brocade fabrics with threads coated in silver and gold. These are some of the highest quality and most expensive textiles produced in Thailand and are favored by the Thai Royal Family. In fact, while we were there we got to see some pieces being created for use in an upcoming Royal dance presentation.
In one workshop we visited, the looms were so large and the pieces of fabric they were producing were so long that there was a opening in the floor beneath the loom so that the fabric could cascade down and be folded on the floor below.
Our next stop that day was Dan Kwian Pottery Village, known by some as “Land of Ceremics”. Since ancient times local villagers have used clay from the banks of the nearby Mun River to make pottery and continue to do so today. In addition to the pottery, other crafts like stone carving are also produced locally and all are displayed at crafts center that line the roadside one after the other for miles. While we would have loved to have bought more, the weight of the stone and ceramic sculptures caused us to limit our purchases to a few small pieces. My personal favorite was a sandstone elephant drilled and plumbed to be a fountainhead with water shooting out of the trunk
As we drove through the countryside on our way to Nakhon Ratchasima (aka Khorat City), we passed through some flooded areas where we saw locals swimming and fishing by the road. We were in Thailand during some serious flooding and while we managed to avoid virtually all of the disaster, Khorat was one of the hardest hit localities. However by the time we arrived there, the roads were passable. Only days before, city streets were flooded but we saw little evidence of any long term damage.
We stayed the night at the Sima Thani Hotel in Khorat City. The hotel is nice but a little worn. The breakfast was good but the hotel was not within walking distance of the central market area. For dinner that night, we hit one last market for street food. At this one, we ended up ordering different dishes from different vendors and then found a table where the vendors would deliver our food.
On the next morning, we were off to Bangkok, where great meals await us.