Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wat Kaew, Chaiya

The most important historical building in Surat Thani province is Wat Borom That Chaiya with the chedi in Srivijaya style. Next to the temple is the local branch of the national museum, so when I visited this place several years ago I did not omit the museum. But these two locations are still found in guide books, and there's even talk about it being part of a World Heritage site to be proposed to UNESCO soon.

However these two should not be topic this time, but two minor sites nearby. While walking through the museum I noticed a map of the surroundings of the main site marking the location of two other temples, named Wat Long and Wat Kaeo (วัดแก้ว). So I asked to go to these as well, and it turned out that in fact I had to guide since noone of family knew the way to go there. When I succeeded thanks to memorizing the map well I could impress my mother in law a lot, who is a native of Chaiya but never knew these places.

The first one, Wat Long, isn't that impressive, as only the foundations of the chedi have been preserved, surrounded by a small pond, and found directly next to the road. The top photo might give an idea on how it looks like.

A little further driving comes the second site, which is more impressive since a much larger part of the chedi is preserved, though one can see the weathering of the centuries well. In the niche, the black hole in the above photo, is a Buddha statue. If these two chedi ruins are in fact those referred to in the Thai inscription #23 as labeled by Prince Damrong in his Collected Inscriptions of Siam, then they are more than 1200 years old.

Though I have been in Chaiya again, I haven't been able yet to revisit these sites, which is really a pity as I am quite dissatisfied with the quality of the photos. Redoing them with my digital SLR should give much more presentable photos, and also more than those few I did back in 2003. Hopefully in next trip.

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