Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, Feb. 12, to Phitsanulok, Wat Yai, King Naresuan Shrine, Naresuan University

Pibulsongkram Rajabhat U. Library

Naresuan University libraries (old and new)

King Naresuan Shrine

Along the River Nan and Wat Yai

After a very early flight from Bangkok to Phitsanulok, our hosts showed us the important Buddhist shrine, commonly called Wat Yai (the real name is extremely long). I show one photo of a building being restored with carved wood gable ends. Gorgeous.

This region is the home of the first capital of Thailand, Sukothai, which I will see Friday. King Naresuan was a warrior and consolidator from the middle ages who unified the region and accomplished much. The shrine to him is near Wat Yai, and archeological excavations are under way around it in the area he was believed to be born. You will notice an offering being prepared to King Naresuan (the photo with a pig's head on a plate). This weekend is Chinese New Year, a big holiday here, and it's the year of the pig. Hmmmmmmm....

Phitsanulok is a fair sized city on the river Nan, where two rivers converge, and also a railroad hub. Our hotel, Topland Plaza, is 16 storeys, western style, with a shopping arcade in the lower level and a parking garage. The stores include Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, along with all the western brands in the department store area. The hotel is filled with tour busloads of Europeans, mostly Brits, Germans this week. I'm told this time next week it will be Chinese and Koreans here for Chinese New Year, a big holiday in Thailand. There are MANY ethnic Chinese who have been here for several generations. Most own businesses and quite a few become important in Thai institutions and education. Apparently, all the tourists come to visit the venerated Wat Yai and Sukothai.

Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University is fairly new, with a downtown campus and a large one on the outskirts of town with new buildings and open spaces. There are several dozen Rajabhat universities. They began as normal schools to train teachers. You'll see a few photos of the library at the top here.

This afternoon we visited the library at Naresuan University nearby, where a new library is under construction and will open this summer. There is one photo on the steps of the "old" library and one of the new library that's almost finished. It's a large, busy place on another nice, spacious campus.

I was especially taken with their Textile Museum documenting an important local craft. The museum shop was equally engaging, and it managed to separate me from most of my Baht. I include a few photos here as a taste of what Carol, Ellen, Cynthia, and other colleagues at Doane Library are just going to love seeing when I return. I'll have to go to the ATM (they're everywhere) a.s.a.p.


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