Hungry Fish, A Hoax, and an Awesome Grill Party!

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Photos by MJ Klein & Hui-chen, including FOOD PHOTOS!

There were still other things to be seen at the temple (“wat” in Thai language).

Temple and Grill Party

After checking out the inside of the temple, we walked down to the lake.  On the way we passed this Buddha with a parasol.

Temple and Grill Party

Even more bizarre is this paper-mache white elephant, complete with functioning trunk and penis. There are water outlets at both those locations (please I don’t want to use that word more than once on this blog, ever!) for what purpose, one can only guess.  The elephant must be wheeled out during Songkran, the Thai new year celebration when water is sprayed everywhere.  That’s the only thing I can think of.

Temple and Grill Party

Behind the temple is another model of the Royal Barge, on a lake.

Temple and Grill Party

We walked down this gangway (shown in the video) and onto the barge.

Temple and Grill Party

That’s me, shooting video with the Glidecam (but you can’t see it).

Temple and Grill Party

Once you’re onto the barge, it seems quite real.  This shot is looking towards the front, from where we came.

Temple and Grill Party

Temple and Grill Party

Temple and Grill Party

Temple and Grill Party

Stunning ornamentation

Temple and Grill Party

The lake is full of fish, and I mean full of fish!  Brunty bought some fish food and we went along the side of the barge and fed them.

Temple and Grill Party

Temple and Grill Party

Temple and Grill Party

In the video, you can hear Hui-chen’s reactions to seeing these fish go after the food!  It’s really something to see!  I wouldn’t fall in the lake if I were you….

The barge has a small temple and we checked it out.

Temple and Grill Party

Inside, we saw this photograph.  The caption says:

“Queen of Nagas seized by American Army at Mekhong River, Laos Military Base on June 27, 1973 with the length of 7.80 meters.”

I found this photograph facinating partly because I had never heard of a “Queen of Nagas” fish before, and because I knew this was a oarfish.  My research into the matter uncovered a well known hoax in Thailand.  Bangkok expat Trevor Ranges has written a very informative expose of this hoax.  Please read the article as it explains everything very clearly.  The fish in this photo is indeed, an oarfish.  These elusive fish occasionally wash up on beaches of the world’s warmer oceans.  Some enterprising Thais have capitalized on the legend of the Naga to make money from tourists by selling this photograph.  To be honest I doubt that the people who run the temple even realize that this photograph is a hoax.

Temple and Grill Party

This is a representation of the Naga, a mythological creature.  The Naga image is used as rails along walkways as seen in previous photos of this temple.  Actual events that take place on the Mekong river keep the legend of the Nagas alive.  Many people believe that they inhabit the waters of the great river.  This article coincides with the timing of the “Naga fireballs” at the end of the Buddhist lent.

Wat Ban Na Muang

This is a Google Earth image of the temple grounds.  I recommend that you click this image and view the large size.  At the left you can see the 3-headed elephant at the entrance, the land-based model of the Royal Barge, and also the lake with it’s larger Royal Barge mockup.  The building opposite the land model of the Royal Barge contains the body of the deceased abbot (from part two in this series).

After visiting the temple, Hui-chen and I went back to our room to rest up for the grill party later that night.

Temple and Grill Party

Brunty picked us up at our room and took us back to his home in the early evening.  This is a shot of Brunty’s famous charcoal grill.  After reading about it, and enjoying several of Brunty’s parties from afar through his blog, I was very happy to finally be able to join in myself.  Hui-chen didn’t quite know what to expect so she was anxious to see for herself.  She wasn’t disappointed.

Temple and Grill Party

Marinading meats.

Temple and Grill Party

Here is Brunty at the workstation, busily tending to the cooking meat.  The grill is very well designed and made by a local craftsman.  I was impressed.

Temple and Grill Party

Temple and Grill Party

I finally get to use Brunty’s grill to dish out some grilled-food torture photos of my own!

Temple and Grill Party

Of course there was Thai food, plus one thing that I wasn’t accustomed to: Thai people with high levels of English skill.  It was refreshing talking with Brunty’s Thai friends without having to struggle to convey things.  Really a great time.

Temple and Grill Party

This is John (left) one of Brunty’s friends.  John didn’t wear the traditional Thai men’s sarong though, and I was somewhat dissspointed as I thought John looked rather good in it.  I wouldn’t mind having one myself.  They look very comfortable.  What do you thinkJohn recently opened a new business in Ubon and we wish him success.  I enjoyed talking with John and hearing his experiences in Thailand.  Brunty (right) is drinking Sang Som with Sprite, soda and a slice of lime.  Out of sight on the right is Hui-chen who was listening to our conversation.

Temple and Grill Party

Here is a group shot, taken by Hui-chen.  It was a bit hot and I was sweating.  Notice that the food is all gone!

Temple and Grill Party

I’ll leave you with this parting shot.  Hui-chen noticed that there were tamarinds growing in Brunty’s yard, and she snapped a shot of them.

Thanks again Brunty!  We had a great time hanging out with you and your excellent friends.  My only regret is that I didn’t take more photos.  I was too busy eating and talking!

Thanks for reading!

Articles in series Ubon Ratchathani:

  1. Ubon Ratchathani, Part One
  2. A Dead Abbot In A Glass Case
  3. Hungry Fish, A Hoax, and an Awesome Grill Party!
  4. Our Last Day in Ubon
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