Founded by the late Ajahn Thate, who was one of the two most revered forest meditation monks in Nong Khai history (the other being Ajahn Juan of Wat Phu Tok), Wat Hin Mak Peng was named after three massive boulders that sit along a narrow stretch of the Mekong.
Ajahn Thate passed away in 1994, and the forest monastery founded by this supposedly enlightened monk quickly became a prominent pilgrimage site. The grounds include a large chedi and mausoleum containing the monk's relics along with his few personal requisites and a bronze statue of him. There's also a life-like wax sculpture of Ajahn Thate that sits among a handful of temple buildings near the three boulders. The vast, sloped rocks are now off limits to visitors as they're perched many metres over the river, but you can walk along a series of picturesque riverside walkways with decent views over to a forested part of Laos.
The monastery grounds are spread over nearly two square kilometres, most of which remain nothing but forest. It's easy to find a quiet corner for meditation, but this is also a pleasant place to simply stroll around and soak up the peace and quiet. The grounds include simple monks' cabins (kuti) and a large pond. If you're not templed out by now, you might check out Phra Sutham Chedi at nearby Wat Aran Ban Pot, which is said to contain a pubic bone of the Buddha. Far out!
How to get there
The temple is located right off Route 211, some seven km west of Sri Chiang Mai and 60 km from Nong Khai. It's well sign-posted if coming by motorbike. Alternately, you can catch the early bus from Nong Khai to Loei and ask to be dropped off at Wat Hin Mak Peng. Keep in mind however that only a few buses ply this route each day so it might be a long wait for the next one.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 23rd March, 2014.