Recently we made a trip through the forested countryside to find the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (อารามแม่พระแห่งสายประคำศักดิ์สิทธิ์) in Sakon Nakhon.
Our route took us through a rather solitary, bit spooky, dirt road through the woods. We eventually arrive at where the lovely monastery is supposed to be (we saw photos on Google Maps). But instead all we see is a sign that says Ban Suan Anatta (บ้านสวนอนัตตา), which means the Soulless Garden House !
We are reminded of Sakon Nakhon’s legendary “zombie village,” and wonder if this is where the church is banishing lost souls. We’re tempted to leave, but since banished souls are usually interesting to chat with, we park the motorcycle.
Walking into the garden, we are greeted by a dinosaur who looks none too pleased, a tiger who seems more sad than fierce, and a black cobra riding an elephant. Odd. Moving forward, we see a ramshackle prayer hut with various other statues scattered in front. Barking guard dogs suddenly approach. Our dog whispering skills don’t seem to work with this pack (a bad sign). So, we pick up a stick in case they want to test us, and keep walking.
Eventually we see some small makeshift huts for lodging, but instead of the usual monk’s robes one sees drying in the open air, we see what appear to be traditional Thai lady’s skirts and tops. Wondering if we may have stumbled into a camp for excommunicated nuns, we decide best not to disturb them, and leave.
When we get back to the bike, we check the phone to see if we interpreted the name of place correctly, and see that “anatta” can mean both soulless and non-self. So, perhaps it wasn’t a garden of soulless outcasts after all, but those seeking the non-self path of the Buddha. We still have no idea what happened to the beautiful Monastery that was supposed to exist there, but we will make another attempt again soon. Stay tuned! 😄