Nakhon Phanom - An Out Of The Way Old Communist Province?

DavidFL

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Working my way back to North Thailand after a failed entry into Laos at Vang Tao / Chong Mek I thought what's the rush? You've come so far, take your time & check out a few more towns & provinces to see what you can learn & enjoy as you go.

On my way I've stopped in Loei, Kalasin, Yasothon, Ubon, Mukdahan & now Nakhon Phanom.

My accommodation used has been listed here
Kalasin Accommodation

Yasothon Accommodation

Ubon Ratchathani Accommodation

Nakhon Phanom Accommodation

Some Restaurants used are here

Nakhon Phanom Restaurants

Kalasin Restaurants

Mukdahan Restaurants

Yasothon Restaurants


Apart from the Mukdahan beauty contest gals,
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Nakhon Phanom has made the biggest impression so far, but we've got a few more days to go before I get to Tha Ton for the GTR dinner, so anything is possible.

Nakhon Phanom is one of those provinces you probably dont hear a lot about as it doesn't have a lot to offer maybe.
Its name of Nakhon Phanom was given to it 'by King Rama 1, and it means "City Of Mountains" but there's aren't any mountains in the city! The mountains are actually cross the river in Laos, behind Tha Khek / Khammouane!

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And what a view it is of those mountains.
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more to come as time permits..
 
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DavidFL

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Nakhon Phanom has some impressive Laotian style wats.

The most famous one of course is Wat Phra That Phanom;
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which isn't actually in Nakhon Phanom city, but in That Phanom, 54 kms south of Nakhon Phanom. It is one of the most revered wats in North-East Thailand.

The Google maps location
Google Maps

According to legend, the first temple structures were built here a few years after the death of the Buddha by five Kings of the Sri Gotupura Kingdom. The chedi is said to be built during the 10th century at a height of around eight meters. At the end of the 17th century the chedi was reconstructed and raised to about 47 meters.

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The Fine Arts Department restored the chedi in 1941 and raised the chedi again to its current height of 57 meters. During very heavy rains in August 1975 the Wat Phra That Phanom temple complex was badly damaged.

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The Wat was closed and the Buddha relic had to be moved to another location. The Fine Arts Department helped by considerable donations from Thai people completely rebuilt the chedi which took four years to complete. A gold spire of 16 kilos was put on top of the chedi and the Buddhist relics were once again enshrined.

The temple also has a small but interesting museum of Buddhist artifacts.
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There was an informative display of info on the monthly merit making by Buddhists at temples.
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I''m sure the main events most of us know, but there are other minor ones that perhaps we get told are "Buddha days "but no real explanation so for me the museum was indeed interesting & I learned a bit more. Now to remember it all, which could be problematic at my age.

Wat Sri Thep Pradittharam
is downtown a couple of blocks off the river.
A stunning looking wat it was first constructed in 1859.
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it has a beautiful colonial abbots residence constructed in 1919, which has been given a distinguished award for The Conservation of Religious Sites & Temples by the Association of Siamese Architects.
However the building was being renovated when i visited, & they say the renovation will be finished in two years.
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The Google maps location
Google Maps

more to come
 
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DavidFL

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In the evening some of the river front temples are lit up with flood lights.

Wat Okat Si Bua Ban is one of them.
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The temple's main attraction is the twin Buddha images of Phra Taew and Phra Tiam which, according to legend, floated across the river from Laos. They are housed in the viharn.

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The legend
Phra Thiam is located on the right side of the principle image, while Phra Tio is on the left. According to a legend, the images were built in the time of Si Khotrabun Kingdom when King Si Khotrabun demanded to have a royal barge constructed. Once the vessel was completed, they pushed it onto Khong River by putting numbers of round logs underneath the barge as laborsaving tools in moving. One log of Tio wood didn’t move as they pushed and kept straying away from the direction. It took a long time to finish moving the barge onto the river. They believed that there was a guardian spirit in that Tio wood. The King, therefore, decided to have the Tio wood carved into a Buddha image in the year 784 and organized a ceremony to celebrate the Buddha statue of the kingdom. In the reign of the next king, King Khattiyawong, a fire incident burned down the hall of Phra Tio. The King ordered to have an imitation of Phra Tio carved from a sacred wood. However, Phra Tio statue was later found in Khong River. It was brought to house alongside with the new Buddha image which was named as “Phra Thiam.”

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The Google Maps Location
Google Maps


Wat Mahathat is another main temple on the river road.
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Wat Mahathat was built in 607 by a Lao army commander from Vientiane, Phraya Ammat, who also built Nakhon Phanom, but later left. The temple was royally granted the land by on the 25th August 1921 .

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The Google Maps Location
Google Maps
 

DavidFL

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The Nakhon Phanom Mekong river foreshore is one of the most beautiful along the Mekong I have seen anywhere in Thailand and Laos.
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How they've built it so user friendly for the community is impressive. It's clean, popular & obviously well managed.

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In the Nakhon Phanom museum at the old governor's residence there is a mention of a former NKP governor Sanga Chantarasa who started the river embankments many decades ago. So NKP has had a reasonable history of protecting their river banks & the town.

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A few other Mekong towns should take note of how it's been done in NKP.

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NKP is proud of the legendary Phaya Naga Mekong river snake.
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The Phaya Naga snake is supposed to inhabit the Mekong if you believe some of the legends.

Phaya Naga folklore
Thai folklore holds the Phaya Naga to be semi-divine, demi-creatures, which possess supernatural powers as has been described in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology.
The "Kamchanod Forest" in Ban Dung District, Udon Thani province, which is held in high reverence and fear across Thailand, is believed to be the border between the human world and the netherworld, and is frequently depicted in Thai folklore as the site of many hauntings, but more frequently is considered to be the home of the Naga.
In Shan folklore of Nanzhao Kingdom (now southern China and Southeast Asia during the 8th and 9th centuries, which was centered on present-day Yunnan in China.) believed Erhai lake is inhabited by Naga and is the creator of the Mekong.
In Lao mythology, the Naga are the protectors of Vientiane, and by extension, the Lao state, the Naga association was most clearly articulated during and immediately after the reign of Anouvong.

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DavidFL

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Nakhon Phanom city is a melting pot of of ethnic peoples; and there are seven different Thai - Lao ethnic groups, as well as Chinese and Vietnamese.

NKP has six entry points to Laos – two permanent crossing points and four border checkpoints. The Main port is the 3rd Thai-Lao Friendship officially opened on 11 November 2011, at 11 minutes past 11am.

Once the center of the ancient Sri Kotrabun Kingdom, NKP was originally a city on both sides of the river.
Around 1256 NKP was moved to the south of Tha Khek.
In 1514 AD the name was changed to Muang Sri Khotrabun
In 1737 it was moved back to the Thai side & slightly upstream from the current location, by Phra Dhamraja the last last ruler of Sri Khotrabun.
In 1778, the ruler moved the city downstream to it’s current location.
In 1790 it came under the control of King Rama 1.

The Vietnamese
The first Vietnamese came to Thailand as a result of the struggle between the then Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mạng & the French who were attempting to colonize Vietnam & promoting Christianity.
In February 1825, Minh Mạng banned missionaries from entering Vietnam. French vessels entering Vietnamese harbours were ordered to be searched with extra care. All entries were to be watched "lest some masters of the European religion enter furtively, mix with the people and spread darkness in the kingdom."

Some of these refugees started turning up in Nakhon Phanom to escape the persecution.

Saint Anna Nong Saeng Catholic Church upstream from town was built in 1926.
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Of note is that the original church was bombed in the Indochina War – when communist North Vietnamese forces crossed the Mekong & clashed with forces in Thailand.

After WW2 more Vietnamese who were opposed to the French colonizing Vietnam & Laos, came to the safety of Nakhon Phanom in 1946.
Under the Thai government of the day they were well received and not recognized as a threat. The Vietnamese refugees were given government assistance and a certain amount of autonomy to administer themselves. They even allowed to work on government works projects.
Generous to a fault it was reported that in NKP they had their own legislative body, openly elected by provincial Vietnamese.
Vietnamese soldiers were seen on the streets of NKP openly carrying weapons.
In 1948 Pibul Songkram assumed power in Thailand and restrictions were soon placed on the Vietnamese. Black pyjama pants were banned for the men, and the chignon by Vietnamese women. In 1951 it was decreed that a Thai policeman must live as headman with every 10 Vietnamese families.
Nationwide trouble was brewing with the Vietnamese refugees and from 1960 - 1964 , 45,000 Vietnamese were repatriated home to the North of Vietnam.

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The Nakhon Phanom clock tower was a gift from the NKP Vietnamese community in appreciation for the permission for the Vietnamese refugees who were allowed to enter Thailand. The tower was built in 1960 on their repatriation back to Vietnam.
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NKP province had been well & truly infiltrated & on 7 August 1965 there was an actual battle between communist fighters and Thai soldiers. Small battles between communists & Thais were not uncommon & in the 1960s, 73 of the 131 sub-district (tambons) were allegedly infiltrated by the Vietnamese and Lao communists, and the province was known as the "heartland of insurgency".

In 1963 US and Thai forces established an air base at Nakhon Phanom. Its nickname by the US forces was Naked Fanny, but damned if I can find the reason for that.
 
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DavidFL

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Nakhon Phanom has another Vietnamese history that is popular with Vietnamese tourists - Ho Chi Minh.

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The young Ho stayed at a house in Ban Na Chok, just on the outskirts of NKP in the mid-late 1920s.

Such is the popularity of Uncle Ho's presence here with Vietnamese tourists that there is now
1. The original restored old site & house
2. A Thai - Vietnamese Friendship Museum site with a flash new replica of the old house
3. A Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh Memorial site that is more like a theme park; & the "Theme Park" memorial site would seem to be a bit over the top, but there's no doubt he's the founding father & hero of Communist Vietnam.

The HCM sites are approximately 5 kms west of Nakhon Phanom.
Take R22 towards Sakhon Nakhon & just follow the signs.

Once you've turned off R22, there is a sizeable Vietnamese cemetery along the way.
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Roughly 1.5 kms past here you are in Ban Na Chok & "Ho Chi Minh" City.

The Thai -Vietnam Friendship Museum is the first site you encounter.
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The museum is full of photos & memorabilia celebrating Thai - Viet Friendship, Ho Chi Minh & of course the officials involved with opening the museum.
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Those responsible for establishing the museum
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more to come..
 

DavidFL

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Next stop is the massive Ho Chi Minh Memorial "theme park."
It is located "one block" away from the Thai - Viet Museum.

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and there's been no expense spared in concrete & tiling.

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The concrete mountain at the back is a beauty
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Into the memorial for Ho.
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A lot of the old photos are actually interesting, but many of them are repeated through out the museum, the memorial, & even the replica house.

The google maps location
Google Maps

More Ho to come.
 

DavidFL

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Adjoining the Ho Chi Minh Memorial is a nice flash replica of the humble abode Ho once lived in that is just 500 metres east.

The new flash replica house
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and 500 metres away the original restored abode.
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The renovated house is situated on land rented from a family, with the family house at the back. The grand children of the original owner who rented to HCM take care of the property now.
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DavidFL

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The Nakhon Phanom Mekong river foreshore is one of the most beautiful along the Mekong I have seen anywhere in Thailand and Laos.
View attachment 122613

How they've built it so user friendly for the community is impressive. It's clean, popular & obviously well managed.

View attachment 122609

In the Nakhon Phanom museum at the old governor's residence there is a mention of a former NKP governor Sanga Chantarasa who started the river embankments many decades ago. So NKP has had a reasonable history of protecting their river banks & the town.

View attachment 122606

A few other Mekong towns should take note of how it's been done in NKP.

View attachment 122601

View attachment 122607

View attachment 122608 View attachment 122610

NKP is proud of the legendary Phaya Naga Mekong river snake.
View attachment 122603

The Phaya Naga snake is supposed to inhabit the Mekong if you believe some of the legends.

Phaya Naga folklore
Thai folklore holds the Phaya Naga to be semi-divine, demi-creatures, which possess supernatural powers as has been described in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology.
The "Kamchanod Forest" in Ban Dung District, Udon Thani province, which is held in high reverence and fear across Thailand, is believed to be the border between the human world and the netherworld, and is frequently depicted in Thai folklore as the site of many hauntings, but more frequently is considered to be the home of the Naga.
In Shan folklore of Nanzhao Kingdom (now southern China and Southeast Asia during the 8th and 9th centuries, which was centered on present-day Yunnan in China.) believed Erhai lake is inhabited by Naga and is the creator of the Mekong.
In Lao mythology, the Naga are the protectors of Vientiane, and by extension, the Lao state, the Naga association was most clearly articulated during and immediately after the reign of Anouvong.

View attachment 122612

View attachment 122605

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As beautiful as the riverside walk way was, it has had issues..
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and was closed
Unsafe new Mekong riverside cycling path closed
 

Eoin Christie

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Jul 16, 2019
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Thank you for the (very) comprehensive write-ups, Dave.
I have fond memories of Nakhon Phanom from 1986, when Laos used to blast poli-speeches across the river in the evenings. On my last day there, a local noticed me hour-whiling, and took me South to a forest setting to meet a community of nomadic monks.
These old photo’s don’t show much of NP, but they mean a lot to me. The day after I left there, I met my wife-to-be, and 32 years later we’re still sharing our journey. Thanks for stirring up happy memories...
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D003 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

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D002 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

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D001 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

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D004 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

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A016 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

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A015 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr
 

DavidFL

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Thank you for the (very) comprehensive write-ups, Dave.
I have fond memories of Nakhon Phanom from 1986, when Laos used to blast poli-speeches across the river in the evenings. On my last day there, a local noticed me hour-whiling, and took me South to a forest setting to meet a community of nomadic monks.
These old photo’s don’t show much of NP, but they mean a lot to me. The day after I left there, I met my wife-to-be, and 32 years later we’re still sharing our journey. Thanks for stirring up happy memories...
View attachment 131389D003 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

View attachment 131390D002 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

View attachment 131391D001 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

View attachment 131392D004 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

View attachment 131393A016 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

View attachment 131394A015 by Eoin Christie, on Flickr

Great shot & memories, what were doing in NKP - backpacking or working?
 

DavidFL

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In 2015 in a cave in Phu Phan Noi mountain in tambon Kanluang of Na Kae district they found a collection of old mortar shells, left over from the war with the communists


Communist-era shells found in cave

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Photo by Pattanapong Sripiacha

Nine mortar shells, believed to have been hidden during the communist insurgency four decades ago, have been found in a cave in the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom.

Local residents contacted authorities after making the discovery in the cave in Phu Phan Noi mountain, which lies in Phuphayon national park in tambon Kanluang of Na Kae district.

Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officers from the 23rd Border Patrol Police Division joined district officials and volunteers on a 20-kilometre trek to the scene on Saturday.

Once inside the cave they found nine Khor 81 mortar shells, each weighing about 10 kilogrammes and 30 centimetres long. All of the shells were said to be in good condition and were later destroyed.

Authorities believed the shells might have been cached for use during a battle against communist insurgents in the 1970s because Na Kae district was known to be one of their strongholds at the time.

Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) guerrillas waged a campaign against government forces from 1965 to 1980 when the government under Gen Prem Tinsulanonda offered an amnesty. The CPT ultimately abandoned the armed struggle in 1983.​
 

Oddvar

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Mar 18, 2013
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Seams that the agreement has not been fulfilled as far as I understand.
Maybe this can be a reminder..