Pseudo Soi Dog

Soi Dog’s Gotta Eat

So as mentioned before, some soi dogs enjoy a gray area; they don’t necessarily have a home, but they do have someone that looks after them — motorbike taxi drivers, various street food vendors, etc. One of the many benefits of being a stray dog in a Buddhist country, I suppose.

I’ve seen this hefty girl on Pattaya Second Road at all hours of the day and night, so I’m assuming she doesn’t have a permanent roof over her head. On the other hand, she has a collar and looks reasonably healthy. And  as you can see, she’s not hurting for eats.

Some soi dogs are looked after ... sometimes looked after too much.


Photo a Day: Fallen Idol?

Or Impromptu Buddhist Altar?

I was strolling through an overgrown vacant lot in Pattaya the other day on my way to the Friday afternoon market to buy a shirt — a garish red one, as it turns out — when I spotted this. Not sure what it’s all about, but it struck me as a … er, rather striking image.

A fallen idol on an impromptu Buddhist altar ...

Sala Keoku: Sewer Bass Feeding Frenzy

We’re (Not) Going to Need a Bigger Boat

And so my last image from my archive of Sala Keoku images taken in 2010 has nothing to do with enormous statuary inspired by Buddhist and/or Hindu mythology/cosmology.

Nope. Like all good tourist attractions, you can feed the fish in the ponds about the place, at Sala Keoku. Fish being carp — or, as my father liked to call them, sewer bass (Dad was a consummate fisherman, you know). Despite the ethical implications — adults always have to over think things (well, this one does, anyway) — the child in me (who is alive and well) can’t help but be amused by the resultant feeding frenzy.

So enjoy this image of said frenzy, and the ensuing closeups. The closeups are actually just tighter crops of the original image, incidentally. As always, click to make ’em big.

Sewer bass feeding frenzy at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Sewer bass feeding frenzy at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Sewer bass feeding frenzy at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Even just looking at these photographs now, I can’t help but be amused. That’s probably worth a few demerit points on the ole’ Buddhist ledger.

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

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. …

‘Til Death Do Us Part

Death In the Circle of Life: Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

I found a small treasure trove of photos I took in Nong Khai at Sala Keoku back in April, 2010, that I never posted to my Flickr account or anywhere else. Huzzah.

Here’s the first of many that will make their way into archive editions of the Photo a Day:

One of the many works at Sala Keoku created by Bunleua Sulilat outside Nong Khai, Thailand

A little bit more about the park’s creator, Bunleua Sulilat. I’ll have to write more about this place later; for now it’s late and I’m sleepy.