As the tourism activities in GMS country or Greater Mekong Sub-region (Cambodia, The People’s Republic of China (PRC) (Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces), The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam) are growing rapidly. We are now not in a small world like an old day anymore, but the new gateway to GMS or ASEAN and AEC countries has already opened to all bussiness man, investor and tourist as well.
During 22-26 May 2016, Mekong Tourism was arranged the International Media Trip visiting Nan province in the Northern Thailand connecting route to the World Heritage site Luang Prabang City in Lao PDR by road and cursing along Mekong River as connectivity tourism in the GMS region.
Nan is a small and peaceful province in the Northern Thailand bordering Lao PDR flourished in Nature, Fine Art, Culture and Local Way of Life, moreover Nan is also the centre of Eastern-Lanna Kingdom for hundred years. Thai Lue (in Thai language “ไทลื้อ) from the Southern China migrated downward to this land and settle down. That’s why “Wat Phumin” the most famous and most beautiful temple in Nan was build by Thai Lue architecture mixed with Lanna Artistic style.
Not only the beautiful open wide space of Nan’s city landscape could calm down our heart but also this is exactly the SLOW TOWN and SLOW LIFE atmosphere. Inside the main pavilion hall of Wat Phumin, i found a very peaceful corner with 4 golden huge sacred Buddha Statutes constructed since 1596. Well known as one of the most beautiful Buddhist Pavilion in Northern Thailand. And TAT promote Wat Phumin to the Unseen Thailand!
Very old and amazing wall painting inside Wat Phumin Pavilion Hall is famous around the country, especially “the whispering of Love” the iconic painting by great painting master named Nhan Bua Phan. This painting reflected not only the concept of eternal love through time, but also showing us the way of Nan’s dressing for hundred years ago. Which believe this man was Burmese whispering some love poet to his Nan’s lady Love one.
Wat Phumin at twilight turn on beautiful lighting from 6.00 pm. to 10.00 pm. everyday as a landmark in the city centre of NAN. From outside we can see Thai Lue architecture style call “Viharn Sot” (in Thai language วิหารซด) means 3 steps of roof layer above the Pavilion.
The second destination of my trip to this peaceful city is “Wat Phra That Chae Hang” that was founded in 1354-1358. The location of this temple was use to be the first capital city of NAN Kingdom in the ancient time, but after a great epidemic killed thousand of peoples here, Nan king’s ordered across Nan River for building the new capital city as we seen until now.
The Jedi or Golden Stupa at Wat Phra That Chae Hang is believe to be the Jedi of people who born in the year of Rabbit as ancient believe. This golden jedi is contain a real scared Buddha Relic, therefor thousand of pilgrims came here everyday to pay their homage.
Wat Phra That Chae Hang is famous for the Huge Golden Buddha Statutes in a main Prayer Hall. The Buddha Statute was created with Sukhothai-Style surrounded with hundred of smaller golden buddha statues offering to the temple year by year from many kings.
From the flat land that Wat Phra That Chae Hang located, i travel with a small van gradually up the hill just outside Nan city centre called “Wat Phra That Khao Noi” (in Thai language “วัดพระธาตุเขาน้อย”). Here is known as the best scenic point of sun rise, sunset and good for observing Nan city in panoramic top view. At the top of the hill located a golden huge standing Buddha Statute facing Nan city area as blessing symbol.
The greenery landscape viewing from top of Wat Phra That Khao Noi toward Nan City. As we could see here is still no Skycreeper disturbing the peaceful landscape, therefore Nan is remain one of popular slow town in Thailand nowadays.
After visited many famous temples in Nan for all day long, after sunset and do some shopping at Wat Phumin Walking Street, Bua Loi Aunty Nim (in Thai language บัวลอยป้านิ่ม) is the best choice to choose.
Aunty Nim is boast for her 40 years of selling local dessert call “Bua Loi” which “Bua” means “Lotus” and “Loi” means “Float”. Because of this local dessert made from flour, after boiling it for a while in sweet syrup then after the flour well cooked it will float on the syrup’s surface, so call Bua Loi.
The second day in Nan, is a good time to proof the words “Nan the city of Art”. Then i visit one of the biggest and most famous local Art Gallery in town : “Nan Riverside Art Gallery” (in Thai language หอศิลป์ริมน่าน) because this wonderful place situated by the bank of Nan River, 20 kilometres from Nan City. Easy to reach by car via super highway number 101, which is the same route take us to Thai-Lao Border at Huay Kon : ห้วยโก๋น (138 kilometres from Nan City).
Inside the 2 stories building of Nan Riverside Art Gallery is a True Heaven of Art’s Lover! Because every corner in the gallery is shown the circulating Work of Art from many local artists in Nan and more. I spend one hour here to appreciate fine art reflecting Nan way of life. So Wonderful!
Because Nan was use to be a great kingdom since the ancient time, therefore they got their own artistic style separated them from the others Lanna Art in the Northern Thailand. Many local artist nowadays try to gather in a small group creating new channel of showing, teaching and selling their own works. By the near future we will see more Nan’s Art spread to the public.
Next to the Main Gallery, i take a shot walk to a mini gallery close to Nan River, here is permanently exhibition of Photographic copy from Wat Phumin (in thai Language วัดภูมินทร์) and Wat Nong Bua (in Thai language วัดหนองบัว) where Nhan Bua Phan the Great Painter done his wall painting. So we could see the similarity painted style and some pictures that he love and always paint such as, a chicken standing with one leg and a young Thai Lue woman do their everyday living.
To proof that Nan Bua Phan the Great Painter of Nan was the same guy to make wall painting at Wat Phumin and Wat Nong Bua, So i took my van straight to Wat Nong Bua not far away. The first thing i can conclude is the main pavilion hall of Wat Phumin and Wat Nong Bua build with the same architectural style of Thai Lue. Small but very fine and elaborate wood carving decorated outstandingly.
Next to the parking area and main pavilion hall of Wat Nong Bua is a small ban of aged local musician. The 3 of their major unplug music instruments are : Sa Lor (สะล้อ), Sor (ซอ) and Seung (ซึง) all playing together in the same time creating soft rhythm in true slow life of Lanna region.
Again with a breath taking beautiful masterpiece of art here inside the main pavilion hall of Wat Nong Bua, i can feel a very perfect peaceful moment of Buddhism which i respected. The huge golden Buddha Statute glittering in a dim light and all of ancient wall painting are fade colours, but still showing a great art of Nan Bua Phan the Great Painter.
The wall painting in Wat Nong Bua created with 3 main colours : Red, Blue and White, which all raw material making these colours came from 100 percent natural in the old day. Some of the painting shows battle scene in the ancient time by the King and Queen on an elephant’s back.
Finally, just behind the wall of main Buddha Statue i found a self-portrait of Nan Bua Phan the Great Painter. He is not just a normal guy of Thai Lue but the one who contained a perfect gift in art and painting. Not attended to any school, Nan Bua Phan practise his own painting style and finally done the wall painting in Wat Phumin and Wat Nong Bua, the best 2 Lue’s temple in Nan until nowadays.
In Wat Nong Bua surrounded area, located an old Thai Lue Wooden House for tourist to visit. Normally in the old day some of their cattles, hens and pigs will kept on the ground floor and on the second floor are the connecting of 3 houses. Two big houses is for living and a small house behind is for storing their rice seed.
Next to the Thai Lue Wooden House in Wat Nong Bua, is a small local shop good for shopping in local handicraft, fruits, herbs, dessert and Nan’s textile call “Sin Nham Lai” (“Sin” is a cloth of local woman / “Nham” is “Water” and “Lai” is “Flowing” so all together means “the cloth with flowing water motif”.
From Wat Nong Bua i took my van continue to Thai-Lao Boarder at Huay Kon which is still more than a hundred kilometre away, but as i’m in a slow life mode so i take a short break at a very lovely local coffee shop “Coffee Ban Tai-Lue” (in Thai language กาแฟ บ้านไทลื้อ).
This Coffee Shop is situated in a rice paddy field providing me the wonderful landscape of mountain background and the greenery at foreground. Just one sip of local Arabica Nan’s Coffee and this amazing view, i’m in HEAVEN now!
Arabica Coffee of Ban Tai-Lue is ready to serve.More than an ordinary local coffee shop, here we can appreciate a very creative of building style with bamboo architecture to be a bridge, walkway, platform and see-through wall blended into the greenery atmosphere.
The last place i stopped on the way before reach the Thai-Lao Border in Huay Kon, is a famous local silver factory : Doi Silver Factory (in Thai language ดอย ซิลเวอร์ แฟคตอรี่). Here is one of the hundred silver factory in Nan province. The staff is welcome a group to see their silver production line and after that surely for shopping a very good quality silver products as a souvenir.
Silver handbag of lady for a formal use and gala luxury dinner. I cannot imagine how much time, experiences, effort and perseverance they should spend for creating these elaborate silver products!? However, this silver factory gained more than 40 years of experienced, so they can teach the technics to young generation.
Silver Bracelet under the production process by experienced hands.
My wonderful journey from Nan to Luan Prabang, the twin cities of slow life is not ended here. I’m still carry on the trip to Thai-Lao Border at Huay Kon by my van loaded full of my friends and my eager.
Special Thanks : Mekong Tourism / Tourism Authority of Thailand Phrae Office / Air Asia /
Luang Say Lodge & Cruise / EXO Travel / SOFITEL Luang Prabang