Nong Khai and Buddha Park
Nong Khai is where most tourists cross the border with Laos, but it also is the site of the Wat Khaek Buddha Park (known also as Sala Kaewku after the builder's guru), an eclectic sculpture garden. Created by Luangpa Boonlour Sureerat, an eccentric layman, the park is laid out with reinforced concrete sculptures of Buddhist and Hindu figures as well as images of Thai and Chinese deities. Giant, multi-headed gods, demons and reclining Buddhas are situated among the gardens and trees. A jolly Buddha grins as he hugs his immense girth. An elephant walks among a pack of anthropomorphic dogs - some walking upright in business suits, others driving motorcycles and convertibles. Skillfully arranged in the gardens for ramblers to discover, the figures are larger than life, with an aura of childlike playfulness. Inside the museum, in the center of a shrine of blinking lights, is a pedestal covered with a glass dome that (supposedly) contains the desiccated body of Sureerat. Without help to decode the frenetic mixture of Asian mythologies though, visitors to the park can only amaze and wonder.