Nong Khai is a sleepy town on the banks of the Mekong River and mainly serves as a springboard to Laos. But you will also find a bizarre sculpture garden for which words fail. Remarkable is the wheel of life, which starts with a baby and ends with a coffin.
Nong Khai Sculpture Park
As in Vientiane, in the opposite Thai city of Nong Khai, there is a park with often surrealistic "Buddha statues". Both parks were founded by the shaman priest Luang Poo Bunleua Sulilat who fled from Laos to Thailand after the revolution in 1975. The park in Thailand, Sala Kaew Ku (Salaeoku) also called Wat Kaek, is larger and more modern than that in Vientiane. The theme is roughly the same, a mixture of Buddhism, Hinduism, animism and politics.
The Mutmee Guesthouse can provide a map with on the back the story about Sala Kaew Ku and its founder, Bunleua Sulilat. And this appears to be indispensable in terms of the interpretation of the most intriguing sculpture group.
The circle of life
The most comprehensive attraction in the sculpture park is the wheel of life, the circle of life. A number of concentric circles depict the different phases of life from birth to death. And the aspects that influence it from a Buddhist perspective. On the outside you will find a flat sculpture representing the small chance of your existence, Brahma the guardian, yourself as a spermatozoid, the penis and the vagina, the latter more recognizable than the former. You enter the circular sculpture group through the vagina. The entrance is flanked by gods from the Hindu pantheon on their mounts.
The outside of the ring depicts the phases and aspects of life. Six images on the inside illustrate the most important.
The inner ring consists of six free-standing images with interaction (except for the last one). They are positioned at the phases on the outer ring. Childhood after birth, puberty before the process of growing old and adultery between love and the death of love