April 2015. Even in a country famed for planet Earth’s most gorgeous temples, the Thai town of Sangkhlaburi more than holds its own with a handful of mesmerizing wats located in and around the all-encompassing Khao Laem Reservoir. The ancient and largely abandoned Wat Somdet Gao is one of them and is best accessed via a cruise around the reservoir. Just grab a captain by the foot of Saphan Mon Bridge, haggle a bit and he’ll expertly guide you across the water from temple to temple. For Wat Somdet Gao I got dropped off here at this tiny secluded beach.
April 2015. From the beach a steep, five-minute forest trail leads to the temple, which sits majestically atop a hill in a beautifully crumbled state. Note that this is a different temple to the flashy, modern Wat Somdet on the main road back in town.
April 2015. Open-air, save for a makeshift cover of black sheets, the interior is really charming with its scattered prayer mats and slanting light patterns. Thanks to its lofty location Wat Somdet Gao is immune to the flooding that affects so many of the area’s temples.
April 2015. Although no longer a properly functioning temple, it was nice to see that for some locals at least it’s still a special place. The lone shrine was decorated by a modest collection of plants, handwritten notes and a framed photograph of a local monk.
April 2015. Sangkhlaburi’s boat captains are a laid-back bunch and more than happy to wait around while you explore. Having hung out in the temple for a bit, we eventually made our way back down the hill where our waiting guide looked up, stubbed his cigarette out and shuffled back onboard for the next leg of our adventure.
For more on my adventures in this incredible Thai town, take a look at my other reports on Sangkhlaburi.
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