sangkhlaburi-architecture-1On a recent long weekend to the Western Thailand border town of Sangkhlaburi, I got a showcase of an intriguing intermingling of architectural styles. Sangkhlaburi is actually 3 towns. There is the modern Thai town, which has a more rustic feel than most, but still is recognizably Thai. Then there is the Mon (Burmese) town across the Mon Bridge, which is arguably nicer than the Thai town.

Spaced between these two is the real character of Sangkhlaburi. About 30 years ago, a dam was built downstream from Sangkhlaburi, creating a large reservoir out of the area. In the process, much of the already existing town was flooded beyond habitation.

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The water level of this reservoir changes drastically based on the seasons, giving rise to the ingenious method of constructing these floating houses. As the levels shift from deep waters to dry ground and back again, these homes rise and fall with the water.

Another part of the town was not so adaptable. On the far end of the Mon Town from the bridge is Wat Saam Prasob. Once an active Buddhist temple, it quite literally fell to the waters after the building of the dam. Now it is often mostly submerged, with only the top section sticking out of the water.

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Thankfully I was there with a very low water level, despite being the rainy season. This meant that I was able to walk abound the entirety of the ruined temple complex. Inside there is still an active shrine to Buddha and a dozen or so people there had also chartered boats out to this remote spot.

Dominating the entire valley area of Sangkhlaburi is Wat Wang Wiwekaram, a golden, pyramid-shaped temple reminiscent of similar, much, much older Hindu temples in India. While the temple is smaller than it appears from a distance, it has a presence about it as its artificial coloring can be seen from anywhere in the vicinity.

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