Udon Thani Provincial Museum – An Old Relic and New Shoes

Whenever I’m in Thailand Wonderful Wi and myself usually know what we are going to do each and every day. On the rare occasions when we wake up and have nothing planned we tend to discuss our day’s intentions over breakfast or before we even leave our room for that first meal of the day. One of those unplanned moments happened to be on the second day of my most recent trip to Thailand back in May.

It was about nine in the morning and we were in our apartment room in Udon Thani. Wilai was watching a Chinese movie on TV and I was stood on our balcony polluting the city’s air with cigarette smoke.

Wi’s choice of TV channel had driven me outside because she had chosen to watch one of those ancient Chinese warrior films where the hero or heroine can jump fifty feet in the air and outfight 100 enemy warriors singlehandedly. Wilai loves watching them but they have cost me a few packets of cigarettes over the years.

I spoke to Wilai from the balcony.

“Do you want to go and see Udon Thani’s museum today?”

“Naaaaaaargh (no)”

“Wilai did you hear me. Do you want to go and see Udon Thani’s museum today?”

“Naaaaaaargh. I want go chopping (shopping) at Central Plaza. I want buy new choose (shoes). You can go moo-zee-um alone”.

Her reply left me emotionally shattered, my Thai girl had chosen to buy new shoes instead of viewing old relics with an old relic at Udon Thani’s Provincial Museum. Surely Mills and Boon would go bust if they published love stories like that.

Udon Thani Provincial Museum

Udon Thani’s Provincial museum was only a short ten minute walk from the apartment block where we were staying and I made the journey alone. The museum is also just a couple of minutes gentle stroll from Udon Thani’s Nong Prajak Park and is situated on Phosi Rd. The building (shown above, photo source Pram Laos) was formerly a girls school but in January 2004 it opened its doors to the public in the form of a museum exhibiting the history, archaeology, geology and culture of Udon Thani.

The Rashinuthid Building is a two-storey brick-built neo-Palladium style structure with each floor consisting of six rooms which display different aspects of Udon Thani Province’s past and present.

Ground Floor

  • Visitor Centre and Reception – Entrance to the museum was free and included a very good brochure detailing the historical background to the museum (Rashinuthid Building) and from the pamphlet I garnered much information for this post. The Visitor Centre also displayed ancient weapons and guns.
  • Natural Study and Geological Room – Natural elements and resources such as fossils, stone shells and dinosaur bones were exhibited here.
  • Anthropological and Racial Room– The history of Udon Thani Province’s early settlers is presented here in the form of models showcasing the layout of an ancient wood structured village and life-size ones of its typical inhabitants (photo right). There is also pottery, hunting weapons and other village antiquities on display.
  • Historical and Archeological Room – On view here are archeological discoveries from Ban Chiang village and Phu Prabat Historical Park which include human skeletons, pottery, bronze ornaments and Buddha images.
  • Culture and Arts Room – The centrepiece here is an old weaving machine used to make Mhi Khid cloth and Khid silk.
  • Historical Background and City Development of Prince Kromluang Prajak Silapakthom – This room is dedicated to the life and works of Prince Kromluang Prajak Silapakthom, the founder of Udon Thani city, and includes many drawings and photographs he produced detailing the early years of the city.

Second Floor

  • Prince Kromluang Prajak Silapakthom Room  – Photographs and background details about the life of Prince Kromluang Prajak Silapakthom. Also featured are both genuine and model items of his personal belongings.
  • Ban Chiang and Phu Prabat Cultures Room – A collection of oil paintings illustrating the ancient lifestyles of people in the villages of Ban Chiang and Phu Prabat.
  • Thong Yai Royal Lineage Room – Photographs and stories from the Thong Yai Royal ancestry.
  • Ancient Photographs Room – Photographs of official visits to Udon Thani by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and members of the Royal Family.
  • Buddhist Monks Room – Two rooms dedicated to some of Udon Thani’s most respected monks with a special display about the merit making of highly revered Wat Pa Ban Tad forest temple monk Luangta Maha Bua Yannasamphanno (1913-2011) who passed away in January this year.

I would apologize for the lack of museum related photographs attached to this post but instead I’d like to thank the staff at Udon Thani Provincial Museum for allowing me to take a few pictures despite it being against their normal policy.

Udon Thani Provincial Museum is open Monday to Friday 8am-4:30pm and Saturday-Sunday 8am-4pm. Entrance is free but there is a donation box on the reception desk to which I made a small gratuity.

If you are ever in Udon Thani city and find yourself with an hour or two of free time then I can recommend Udon Thani Provincial Museum as a very worthwhile place to visit.

Once again thanks to the museum staff for their help, (they did offer me a guided tour which I foolishly turned down), and also to Pram Laos website for allowing me to publish their museum photograph.

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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.

14 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Hi Martyn- I fancy WW will not appreciate you publishing a photo of her dressed like that 😉 Strange fetish of Englishman on tour?
    On a more serious note, there are actually quite a few good provincial museums, not always easy to trace mind, although Andy on Unseen Thailand has visited a lot and reported about them.

    I can never quite understand why photographs are not allowed here and in other countries. Surely it just helps publicise the places?

  2. Martyn says:

    Mike – If Wilai dressed like that I’d have moved to Thailand years ago.

    It is disappointing that museums and such don’t allow the public to take photographs, Ban Chiang and Kanchanaburi’s Death Railway Museum had a similar ‘no photos’ stance. Udon Thani’s museum staff allowed me to take some shots when I explained about my blog site.

    The Udon museum would be hard to find for most visitors to the city, luckily I’d walked past it a few times on my way to the Nong Prajak Park.

    The museum is a very good place of interest to anyone visiting the city.

  3. Lawrence says:

    The building looks to be the best exhibit, although the rest of it seems pretty interesting, too. Definitely more interesting than tagging along on a shoe-shopping expedition even with WW.
    What is this Thong Yai lineage? I’ve never heard of that.
    I guess the no photos rule has something to do with protecting copyright, though that’s not exactly a major concern of most Thai authorities, is it.

  4. Martyn says:

    Lawrence – I’ll have to pass on Thong Yai lineage, I got my information from the museum’s brochure which says:

    ‘The room displays a story and photographs of royal relatives under Thong Yai Royal lineage including their obligations.’

    There is a Thong Yai Road near to the museum and so it must mean something of importance to Udon Thani Province.

  5. Snap says:

    I agree with Mike on the museum photo taking…doesn’t make sense unless they have a publication to sell, including photos. That I can understand.

    What I want to know is, what type of shoes did WW buy? 😉

  6. Martyn says:

    Snap – Wilai is the Isaan equivalent of Imelda Marcos, heaven knows how many pairs of shoes she has and I can’t remember the ones she bought that particular day. She buys at least two pairs on each of my trips. And her wardrobe…..that’s another matter.

    Surely blog photos of a museum can only be a positive for such a place.

  7. Snap says:

    Martyn, I found this on the net.

    “Flash contains a lot of UV light, which significantly hastens ageing of just about everything. A single camera flash would do almost nothing, but if hundreds of people a day used flash exposure on the same thing, it could cause significant damage.

    This is also why a lot of museum put their exhibits under acrylic covers. Acrylic plastic absorbs UV very well.” Other prohibitory reasons were security, crappy photos being distributed and discomfort of other patrons.

    But I’m wondering why Stray was permitted to take photos of the Mona Lisa and other masterpieces, in the Louvre, Paris.

    Shoes! Imelda Marcos would be ashamed of me. It does amaze me how some of these girls can walk on these pavements in 6 inch heals.

  8. Martyn says:

    Snap thanks for your efforts in tracking down the reasons why photography isn’t allowed in museums. Your research has come up with very plausible reasons although they do make me wonder how the much photographed stars of Thai TV and films manage to look so young and white skinned.

    Crappy photos…..Here’s an old BTMJ post on that very subject which I wrote a long time before you foolishly slipped through the back door of Beyond The Mango Juice.


  9. Mike says:

    Snap and Martyn thanks for info on flash, I believe you, but I am not convinced about the motives of such places. You don’t have to be a genius to switch off auto flash and still take good pictures(even in artificial light). Perhaps as you suggested they don’t like copies albeit photos floating around.

    Lawrence: U Thong? The first king of Ayutthaya.

    As for Thai TV stars-Whitening cream is the answer 😉

  10. Martyn says:

    Mike whatever the reasons are the sad fact is too many of these places won’t allow photos to be taken when it really would be free advertising for museums and their like. I think letting them know you run a website does tend to soften their tone a touch.

    Thanks for the U Thong information.

  11. Snap says:

    Martyn, those photos in that old post were in one word…’tragic’. I’d love to upgrade my camera, which I keep on Dis Mode (anti shaky hand) permanently, but it’ll have to wait until we return to Oz in a few months and have fertilised the money tree.

  12. Martyn says:

    Snap I too get the hand shakes from time to time. I’ve just finished a post about a Thai wedding I went to and was going to include a video I shot of the ceremony. However it looked like an earthquake had hit the house where the ceremony was taking place.

    One day I’m going to buy myself a real good camera.

  13. Chan chop says:

    Hi there… I have visited Udon twice, once for 16 days and another for 10 days… I wish I had found your blog earlier, as I was utterly bored and my boyfriend (From Udon) refused to go out in the day, it being so hot.

    The next time I head to Udon, will definitely look for the museum, thank you for your post!

  14. Martyn says:

    Chan chop – Thanks for your comment and I hope you enjoy your next visit to Udon and also your trip to its museum.

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