Sala Keo Kou – Nong Khai

sala keo kou sculpture park nong khai 2018

Sala Keo Kou in Nong Khai is the perfect place to remind yourself that life and its quieter moments can still offer breathtaking experiences and heart-thumping moments. Set on the outskirts of Nong Khai city, the sculpture park is a cultural attraction that deserves more publicity than it currently gets. I see this post as a chance to blow its trumpet and blast its horn.

Sala Keo Kou Sculpture Park

Sala Keo Kou

At a healthy twenty baht entrance fee, the magnificent giant sculptures of Sala Keo Kou set among gentile tropical gardens rate as a must-see attraction.

The concrete sculptures are the work of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and his band of followers. Sala Keo Kou was created and erected by 100+ men and women who lived on the grounds and gave their labour for free.

Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat

Bunleua Sulilat (1932-1996) was a Thai born spiritual cult leader and concrete sculpture artist. When he was younger, stories allege that while out mountain walking, he fell into an open cave where a kind hermit named Keoku lived. The hermit taught Bunleua Sulilat about Buddhism and Buddhist mythology.

After many years of scholarship from Keoku, Bunleua ventured into Laos. In 1958 Bunleua started constructing the Buddha Park, near Vientiane. Twenty years later, on the other side of the Mekong River, Bunleua commenced work on the sculpture park three kilometres east of Nong Khai. The statues feature both Buddhist and Hindu mythological figures and illustrate many scenes from the life of the Lord Buddha. The Sala Keo Kou Pavilion pictured above houses the mummified body of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat. He died in 1996 after a lengthy illness.

The Buddhist Wheel of Life

sala keo kou sculpture park nong khai 07

The sculpture park always attracts many Thai visitors and markedly more so on public holidays. On the occasions I have visited this beautiful site, there has been a small number of foreign onlookers taking in the sheer beauty and craftsmanship that the giant sculptures hold.

One of the main features is The Buddhist Wheel of Life. A concrete anthology of sculptures that follow the Buddhist path from birth through the life cycle – childhood, marriage, old age, death and eventual rebirth into a better life as a reward for merit made in their previous one.

Sala-Keo-Kou-Sitting-Buddha

For the green-fingered and gilled tourist, you can feed fish in a well-stocked pond, and there is a garden centre with a variety of cactus for sale.

The sculpture park is an excellent way to spend free time and is a ten-minute drive from Nong Khai city centre. Just make sure your camera battery is fully charged and ready to capture the fantastic statues of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat’s Sala Keo Kou.

Credits: Top Right Photograph   Sala Keo Kou  by Jpatokale

Martyn

I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

6 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    HD very impressive, one thing that the Thais seem to have down to a fine art (no pun intended).

    I notice some of the concrete has weathered a bit, which whilst adding character also for me slightly spoils the overall effect like in the big Buddha shot.

    Mike’s last blog post..Food Fit For a Foreigner!

  2. Malcolm says:

    I am always awe struck at the enormity of some of the parks and gardens found thru out Thailand and of course other Asian countries as well , the thing that amazes me the most about them is the years of sacrifice and dedication of one person , or as in this garden hundreds of helpers to create such a place.I see this as commitment of the hightest order ,what great talent and insight these artist had, and as you said in your post spent a lifetime creating these wonderful works of religon and art. may we all be as committed to what ever our call is in life .
    I only hope for the sake of future generations that the Thai government and the Thai folks don’t let it fall into dispare, as have so many wonderful works of art in Thailand , only to be reduced to a pile of rocks to take pictures of and say , “it use to be this or that .” Thanks Martyn for the picture and the story and adding one more place to my “Buckets List” of things to see before I leave this old world. Malcolm

  3. martin in bulgaria says:

    Hi Martyn,
    So many bits to this park jigsaw, a sculpure, fish, cactus, fortune-telling,tropical garden, Buddha and Hindu stories and added to this a cemetry in 1996.

    I lovely place for educational adventure.

    martin in bulgaria’s last blog post..Never A Slave To Fashion in Bulgaria

  4. Hoo Don says:

    Mike – Yes a lot of the statutes were showing signs of the weather but they were still a very impressive sight. With an entrance fee of only 20 baht for foreigners and it being free to Thai’s then I think they will struggle to raise sufficient funds to properly maintain the park. Such a shame.

    Malcolm – The great commitment that you write about is for all to see in the wonderful artistry shown in the photos. I like your “buckets lists” expression,” how about you do a post on it.
    I really do hope the Thai government can get involved and help maintain this site.

    Martin – I wouldn’t say the park is by any means massive but yes their is plenty to see there. Its’s hardly the sort of place you can whisk around in five minutes. The sheer beauty of the many sculptures mean you tend to forget time and before you know it a good hour has passed. Well worth a visit.

  5. Talen says:

    Great pictures. Another place to add to the ever growing list of places to see. The Thais definitely have an abundance of parks and attractions.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Talen – I must admit I’m not really a tourist attraction type of guy but Wi suggested we visit it a few years back. I really enjoyed going there and have been back a few times since. Well worth a look if you find yourself in the area.

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