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Monday, September 3, 2012

Ubon Ratchatani Visit Report 03.09.12

Chedi at Wat Nong Pa Pong
My first few hours in Ubon were spent at Wats Pa Nanachat and Nong Pa Pong on the south side of the Moon River, it seemed to coincide with the last view of the sun for the weekend.Both monasteries were full of people making merit and visiting. License plates showed people from  throughout the Northeast and Bangkok.
Both monasteries were clean, well maintained, simple and quiet.
The old wooden sala at Nanachat has been replaced by a new yet very tasteful new one that fits sedately into the woods.
Saturday afternoon and early evening were spent in town, While on the food front there was a very pleasant surprise the rest of the city was a bit of a disappointment. Thung Si Meuang seems to be much the worse for wear. Things are not being maintained, the footpaths falling apart, construction equip,ent left laying about and the exercise sala out of commission and the remaining equipment in bad repair or broken. It was nice to see some of the Wax Sculptures from the Festival still up at the garden by the National Museum, unfortunately the garden itself was a bit dreary.
Sunday was a rainy, overcast day. We visited Wat Tai Phrachao Yai Ong Tue, Wat Liap and Wat Burapa and Wat Suthatsanaram, all a part the history of Forest Buddhism and in the lives of Ajahn Sao, Mun and many of their students. Wat Liap, where Ajahn Mun converted to the Dhammayut order not only cannot maintain what they have, the Ajahn Mun chedi (pagoda) leaks, but the planned museum seems to have run out of funds, All of these city wats could use a good clean up. Wat Burapa the least dirty of the 3 still is site of another huge sala construction gone stalled.
Lodging-wise the Phadaeng Mansion now in its 5th year is still a bright spot, everything clean, maintained and up to date.
I have been visiting Ubon for 17 years now and while it looks like all effort is going into the commercial area in town to ensure peoples ability to shop until they drop is enlarged and enhanced it is sad to see the heart of the town looking so dreary and forgotten.