Sala Keoku: the Need for a Polarizing Filter

Yep, the Sky Could Use Some Detail

Ah well, hindsight is 20/20. And it was pretty hazy that day; not sure a polarizing filter would have helped bring out much detail in the sky. I was half tempted to see if I could add a worthy cloud-filled blue sky in Photoshop, but I’m still kinda dopey with this cold and couldn’t be arsed today.

Only one more photo from Sala Keoku after this one.

On Buddhist Pond: Sala Keoku, outside Nong Khai, Thailand

And here’s a closeup of one of these statues by the pond:

On Buddhist Pond: Sala Keoku, outside Nong Khai, Thailand

Sala Keoku: an Asura

A Buddhist Demigod at Sala Keoku

It’s strange to me, given my Western layman’s understanding of Buddhism, that Buddhism has various gods and demigods — a veritable cosmology, much of which it shares with Hinduism, naturally. Even here, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced, one sees evidence of this in temples and people’s beliefs.

But then as noted here before — and I’m certainly not the first — Buddhism is mixed with older beliefs and traditions (as are most, if not all religious traditions).

Anyway, this is an Asura pictured below at Sala Keoku, a three-headed demigod. I’m still struggling with this cold, and the meds and lack of sleep are making me dopey, so I’ll refer you to Wikipedia’s entry on Asura specifically and Buddhist cosmology generally. Enjoy.

An Asura, a Buddhist demigod, as depicted at Sala Keoku, in Nong Khai, Thailand

Down and Out with a Head Cold

Cold in My Head is Kicking My Ass

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’m functioning, but not at full capacity. Hence the two day gap in ye olde Photo a Day project. Seem to be on the road to recovery though. So here’s yet more of Sala Keoku.

As always, clicken to embiggen the photographs.

Sala Keoku sculpture park, Nong Khai, Thailand

And a detailed/closeup shot.

Sala Keoku sculpture park, Nong Khai, Thailand

We Interrupt Sala Keoku for Soi Chaiyapoon

Or, as I Think of It, Chase Some Poon

I was looking at some other photographs I had taken from a trip to Thailand was I was still living in Viet Nam, and I came across from photos from a trip to Thailand right before I went back to Viet Nam in October of 2011.

When I lived in Thailand I had never made it to the infamous Pattaya. This trip I decided I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Thinking like Ford Prefect, I figured any place that had such a negative reputation would probably make for a fun visit. So I packed my towel and off I went.

Does it live up to it’s reputation? I think rather it’s reputation doesn’t live up to the reality.

Anyway, this is a shot from the balcony of my room on Soi Chaiyapoon. Naturally, given the um, adult nature of Pattaya, shall we say, observing the punters and the expats going about their tail chasing, I decided a more apt name would be Soi Chase Some Poon.

Since this is normally a PG rated blog, I’ll leave it up to you and Google, should you not get my clever, colorful and racy bon mot.

The aptly named Chaiyapoon, a colorful (in more ways than one) soi in Pattaya, Thailand.

 

You Just Can’t Have Enough Giant Snakes

Yep, More Giant Snakes at Sala Keoku

Not sure what’s going on here. I’m sure it references the story of Mucalinda and the Buddha. In any event, there are many giant snakes there of various descriptions and sizes here.

For more info on this place outside Nong Khai, Thailand, here is the link once again to Sala Keoku at Wikipedia.

For more images from Sala Keoku here at the Gecko’s Bark, follow that second link.

P.S. I hope no one interprets this headline as being disrespectful; I don’t intend it to be. In fact if it’s meant to make fun of anything, it would be my own ignorance. I do know that according to Buddhist lore it was a serpent — a naga — that protected the Buddha while he achieved enlightenment, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge when it comes the depictions represented by the statuary at Sala Keoku.

Yet another sculpture with a giant snake at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand.

I’ve always found it interesting, in terms of comparative religion, that serpents are and important positive aspect of Hinduism and Buddhism, among other belief systems in this part of the world. Whereas in other religions, namely Christianity, the snake is held in a much more negative light, to say the least.

 

If a Tree Growing Out of a Buddha’s Head Falls …

And There is No One There to Hear It,
Does It Make a Sound?

Just out of curiosity — because this is how my mind works — I Googled “tree growing out of a buddha.” The results were interesting, and surprisingly, a Wikipedia entry was only no. 9. in the first 10 results. The first result was a Guardian (UK) story about an orchard in China that grows pears in the shape of the Buddha.

The story contains a pun so bad that even I wouldn’t go there, and I love a bad pun:

A pear grown in the shape of one of the world’s most important spiritual teachers? You Buddha believe it.

That … pained me. Have you no shame, Leon Watson?

Oh, and there’s a Buddha Tree salon in Washington D.C.

Of course the Buddha achieved enlightenment while sitting under a fig tree (see the aforementioned Wikipedia entry on the Bodhi Tree). Confused about old school and new school varieties of Buddhism and the various gradations in between? This article titled The Dharma Tree will help.

All of this is just a lead in to my next two pictures from Sala Keoku in Nong Khai, Thailand. I suppose after all that jabber above, they require no further expanation. For more photos from Sala Keoku, follow that link. Click the images to make big, as usual.

A Buddha with a tree growing out of its head: Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

A Buddha with a tree growing out of its head: Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Sala Keoku: Seven Heads Better than One

Especially When We’re Talking About Giant Statues

Argh. Effing hot season has ended, which means we’re back to hot season. Finally. Always glad to see April and May pass by in this part of the world. Of course with regular hot season approaching — I don’t care what you read on Wikipedia or Lonely Planet; there are two seasons in Southeast Asia: hot season and f@#%ing hot season. At the beginning of regular hot season — now — it rains to beat hell seemingly every day.

That plays hell with photographic efforts (not to mention Bangkok traffic). So here’s still more from the archives of Sala Keoku. I may just go ahead and run these from here on in until I go through them all, since they haven’t seen the light of day before. Unless, of course, I come up with some interesting shots in the interim.

Seven headed snake and the Buddha at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Anyway, I don’t recall any seven-headed snake gods in Buddhist philosophy or teachings, but then the cultures in this part of the world are so old and beliefs so ingrained, often new ideas get hopelessly intertwined with older ones.  For example, Buddhism may be 2,500 years old and then some — predating Christianity and Islam, I might add — but animism and belief in spirits are much older still, and all three exist happily side by side here in Thailand.

Obviously Hinduism and Buddhism are intertwined with one another in this part of the world as well. Gautama Buddha became enlightened while a prince on the Indian subcontinent, where the founding beliefs and traditions that became what we know today as Hinduism were already ancient in his day — hence the statues of Sala Keoku, with their mix of Buddhist and Hindu inspirations.

Have I mentioned these are, to put it in the vernacular, some big-ass statues, at Sala Keoku? See the little blob to the left of the snake head farthest to the left in the above photo? That’s a bird — and not a finch. You can spy another one sitting on the top of the second head from the left.

The photo below will give you a little more idea of the scale. You can also see this statue in the background of the photo posted earlier.

Seven headed snake and the Buddha at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Looking at these photos makes me want to take a trip up to Nong Khai again. …

And Yet Still More Sala Keoku

That’s Right: I’m Koo-Koo for Sala Keoku … Puffs

Not really, but Sala Keoku  is a unique place, and as explained before, I have a bunch of photos taken there in 2010 that I never put up online anywhere. So here ‘s more from Sala Keoku. 

Yep still more from the religious sculpture park outside Nong Khai, Thailand: Sala Keoku

And here’s a detail crop:

Yep still more from the religious sculpture park outside Nong Khai, Thailand: Sala Keoku

Not the bit of color noise. Shot this with my old Canon Rebel; looking at these old photos, you can really see the difference  the new image sensor makes. More on this later. …

 

 

 

 

An Indiana Jones Set Piece: Sala Keoku

Yet More from the Archives and Sala Keoku

Yesterday was a day from hell. I love my apartment in Bangkok, but sometimes the commute during peak hours is just … effing evil. I waited an hour for a bus that never came, because traffic was so freaking bad. And there was no taxi to be had. So I had to retreat to a cafe and wait for another hour and catch the 10 p.m. bus back to Bangplad. Argh.

By the time I got home, I was in a “screw everything” frame of mind, and drowned my sorrows in a bag of chips and Venture Brothers reruns. At least effing hot season is over, now that the rainy season is here. I thought about getting a photo a day entry together, but “screw it” one the day. So I’m backdating this. Because I can.

Anyway, more from Sala Keoku in Nong Khai, Thailand. Seriously, it looks like the set from some Indiana Jones movie. More Sala Keoku photos are here.

This is Sala Keoku in Nong Khai, Thailand -- not the back lot set from an old Indian Jones movie.

You know, once I posted this, I decided the white balance is perhaps a little bit off. Just a bit too warm. So …

This is Sala Keoku in Nong Khai, Thailand -- with a blue filter to the rescue.

 Ah, that’s better.

 

Photo a Day: Thai Gargoyle?

Is There Such a Thing as a Thai Gargoyle?

The Thai equivalent (presumably) of a western gargoyle, perched on a Bangkok building.

Various combinations of those terms put to Google have proved a fruitless search, so I have no idea. I would presume, however, that these sorts of things one sees on Thai buildings serve the same sort of similar function as that of the gargoyles one finds on older buildings in Europe?

I’ve been meaning to ask my Thai friends and colleagues about this, but I never think about it, except when I happen to see one. I’ve tried to decipher the script at the bottom, but it’s such a stylized font that I found it too difficult to read with my nascent language skill.

Anyway, I snapped this photo with my phone a while ago, but it’s one I see at least a few times a week. My Thai language school is located literally right outside of the Phloen Chit BTS Skytrain station. Every time I take the escalator up to the platform, I go past this guy keeping watch over the building next to the one my school resides in. There is also an archer, but unfortunately his photo turned out too blurry to post.

If you click the above photo and look at it full size, you’ll see that it’s not as sharp as it could be — but still pretty impressive when you factor in that I was moving (up the escalator) when I took it. Once again the N8 comes through.