TRAVEL DATE: 22-25 December 2016 DESTINATION: Ubon Ratchathani, Yasothon and Amnat Charoen Provinces ACCOMMODATION: JP Emerald Hotel and Plai Far Resort
Some of Thailand’s biggest Catholic communities are situated in Isaan, the northeastern provinces of Thailand. In the days leading up to 25th December, a famous Christmas Star Parade takes place in Sakon Nakhon province. It proved to be so popular, that the Christian community in Ban Songyae in Yasothon province decided to organise their own Christmas Star parade. This was their second year. This community was the main destination and highlight of my four day trip to Ubon Ratchathani, Yasothon and Amnat Charoen provinces. During the trip, I tweeted live on @RichardBarrow. Click to see the embedded tweets for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. The last day was mainly a travel day back to Bangkok.
Last week I was in Ubon Ratchathani to see them preparing the giant wax sculptures that will be taking part in the Candle Festival Parade on 31st July 2015. Processions like this are happening all around Thailand at this time of year to mark the start of the three month long Buddhist Rains Retreat. Last year I was in Suphanburi and Ayutthaya for their processions. This year, TAT Isaan invited me to go with them on a five day trip around Northeastern Thailand. The highlights of the trip were the alms giving to monks on elephant back in Surin and the Candle Festival parade in Ubon Ratchathani. During the trip, I tweeted live on @RichardBarrow. Click to see the embedded tweets for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. The last day was a travel day back to Bangkok.
The following map shows the places that I visited during the trip:
PHOTO ALBUM FOR DAY 1:On the first day of our Isaan trip, we stopped for lunch at Play La Ploen in Buriam. This is a boutique hotel and adventure camp. They also have a Flora Park which we visited after lunch. We then drove straight to Surin where we were just in time for the Candle Festival Procession. We then stayed the night in Surin.
PHOTO ALBUM FOR DAY 2:The highlight of the second day was the merit making ceremony where monks rode on elephant back to collect alms from local people and tourists. This day is Asarnha Bucha which is on the full moon in July every year. 88 elephants took part in the ceremony. We next went to Ban Taklang Elephant Village to attend their Buddhist Lent ceremony. Surin is the home to Thai elephants and they have many festivals that involve elephants in this province. On the way to Ubon Ratchathani, we stopped briefly at Ban Khampun. This is a private residence and also a weaving center. They only open to the public for three days every year during the Khao Phansa festival. We spent the night in Ubon Ratchathani.
PHOTO ALBUM FOR DAY 3:The third day of our trip coincided with Khao Phansa which is the official start of the three month long Buddhist Lent. On this day, there are many candle processions around Thailand. Probably the biggest and best Candle Festival Parade takes place in Ubon Ratchathani. The wax sculptures in the parade can take up to two months to complete. On this day, we also visited the 20 meter high Buddha image Phra Mongkhon Ming Mueang in Amnat Charoen province. In Yasothon province, we met people who were hunting for lucky numbers at Wat Ban Chiang Pheng. Here there is a 200 year old boat and people rubbed the wood to try and see auspicious numbers so that they would have a good chance of winning the lottery. Our final stop was to see the giant toad at Vimarn Phaya Thaen.
PHOTO ALBUM FOR DAY 4: Last night we stayed at Srilamduan in Sisaket. Our first stop in the morning was to Wat Nong Takhian. The highlight here are the 28 Buddha images. Our next stop was to Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai which has the largest & most well-preserved Khmer ruins in Sisaket. Our final stop before lunch was Prasat Sikhoraphum in Surin. This sandstone temple, built on a laterite base, was originally a Hindu place of worship in the 12th Century. It was later converted to Buddhism. The afternoon was spent driving to Pakchong in Nakhon Ratchasima where we spent the night. We then returned to Bangkok in the morning.