Quite literally millions of fossilized oyster shells are here for your photographic pleasure. Wait, what?
Meet Luang Por Thong Gleung Soontharo. Ordained as a monk in 1969, he went deep into the jungles of Myanmar for several years, eventually returning to Kanchanaburi in central Thailand. During his travels, he had a vision that led him to buy 113 rai (about 18 hectares) of land in Pathum Thani, now the site of the temple. The land now bought, courtesy of his father’s funds, he called for a pond to be dug during the temple’s construction in 1983. It was here that the millions of oyster shells began to be excavated, some large enough to hold a small child. Geologists speculated these made their way here millions of years ago while this area was below sea level.
In any case, excavations continued for over a decade, during which time he decided to construct a chedi (stupa) with the oyster shells. Today, this is what you’ll see along the road when you arrive — but there were still plenty of oyster shells left. He built a second chedi in the Burmese style inside the temple (which is under a fair bit of construction right now), and there’s still plenty of shells to go around:
Don’t even try to count them all.
That pond, by the way, is stacked with plenty of catfish awaiting the fish food you’re enticed to drop — conveniently, it’s on sale along the piers.
And then there’s this big guy:
About three meters wide and six meters long, he completely lords it over the dozens of very real turtles crawling around.
Next up, a staircase (of sorts) — we didn’t go to the top to see what was up there, as we were quickly running out of light.
The second ‘WTF’ moment came when we found the covered ‘museum’:
Old computer equipment is just one of the odd things here.
Apparently, this has all been donated to the temple, though the reasons why are unknown. It’s a bizarre collection of art, antiques, old utensils, jars, pottery, engraved wood, calculators, and so much more. Best (worst?) of all, it’s just ‘there’ — it’s not a store or meant to look like a museum — it’s just there.
You can safely expect to find a huge heap of broken pottery at or near a kiln… Here, I got nothing.
It’s about halfway between Ayutthaya or Bangkok, and while it’s not accessible by public transportation, it’s a great excuse to borrow a motorbike and get out of the city for the day.
Name: Wat Chedi Hoi (วัดเจดีย์หอย)
Address: Moo 4, Bo Ngoen, Lat Lum Kaeo, Pathum Thani 12140 (GPS: 14.114487,100.38593)
Directions: We approached from Ayutthaya, but in truth it’s almost halfway between the former capital and Bangkok.
From Bangkok, start from Bang Sue MRT. Head west down Soi Siam Cement, which turns into Pratcha Rat Sai 2. Cross the first river, then turn right just after the second river. Follow this road about 3 kilometers to highway 2, and stay on for about 2.5 kilometers. Begin looking for a left exit onto route 302. Drive about 14 kilometers until route 302 comes to motorway 9 — stay straight to do the loop onto the highway. Go 7 kilometers, exit left onto route 340, then go 6 kilometers and bear right onto route 346. Follow this for about 18 kilometers — the temple is on your right, and you’ll see the large statue of oysters.
From Ayutthaya’s train station, head south to route 309 (also called Rochana), and cross over the river. Stay on this for 2.5 kilometers, until it comes to a T. Head left, then turn right onto Uthong. Follow Uthong around the southern part of the city for about 3 kilometers, then turn left onto route 3263, crossing over the river again. Stay on route 3263 heading west out of town, and ride for about 40 kilometers. Note that the paved road gives way to dirt roads occasionally, and the road condition itself isn’t the best. Take it slow, especially at night or when raining.