One of the more “bizarre” places to visit in Thailand is located near the Isan city of Nong Khai. The place is a mere 5 minutes outside of the center of the border city and can surely be called unique.

It gets even more bizarre when you realize that the place is actually a “Wat”, which is the Thai word for “Temple”. Indeed, “religious sight” would fit much better in this case because this is as far from the image of a traditional temple as it possibly gets.

In an earlier part of this “Out of the Ordinary” series, I was talking about the “White Temple” of Chiang Rai, which also is really different from the conventional Thai temple, in a kind of “creepy” way.

Wat Sala Kaew Koo - a different kind of 'strange'

Nong Khai’s sculpture garden- come- religious place, Wat Sala Kaew Noo (or Wat Khaek) pushes the boundaries of religiosity and the border of creepiness way further!

In 1978, a man named  Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat started building the place, following teachings of a hermit he met in his native of Laos and the idea that all religions are entangled with each other. It is an idea that does not seem too far off if you just think about philosophies like the “Golden Rule” or the fact that three of the world’s biggest religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) basically have the same origin and prophets, kings or holy figures.

Buddha Park in Vientiane

(There even is a so called “Buddha Park” near Vientiane, Laos, by the same artist. The park was never finished because Sulitat fled Laos in the 70’s, when the country turned communist.)

On the temple premise, you will find symbols, which represent all kinds of different religions.

The most visual and obviously inspired by a non Buddhist religion is the central building, which bares mosque like features and houses artifacts from the life of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, including his mummified body…under glass!

The most significant feature of the temple and the surrounding park are the sculptures, though.  Some are truly gigantic. Some are small and a kind of odd looking. Some depict scenes or tales from the Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The biggest sculpture shows a meditating Buddha, towered by a 25 meter high, seven headed Naga snake.

The impressive, 25m high, Naga- statue

Besides, there are also mysterious features like the “wheel of life”, a group of sculptures arranged in a circle that represents the circle of death and rebirth.

If you travel to Isan and especially Nong Khai, you cannot definitely afford to miss the opportunity to see this weird place. They are really impressive.