Wat Tham Champa Kantasilawat, Mukdahan, Thailand is one of those places rarely encountered in following the history of Forest Buddhism in Northeast Thailand. Here is a cave complex where Ajahn Sao, Ajahn Mun, Luangta maha boowa, who at the time was just plain old maha boowa bhikku meditated. There might be conflicting stories as far as the history of the place, but there is no doubt that this was and still is a place, like so many here in the mountains to meditate. The remains of the sala under the overhang are still elegant in their simplicity….
Archive for the ‘Isaan Life’ Category
This is the first of my Viking posts. I first learned about Viking, Mukdahan, or any base in Muk via Joseph J Wilson JrUSARSUPTHAI FB Association afew months ago.
Over the years I have visited old bases in the area for a number of guys and groups, but this is the first I had heard of one near, or in central Mukdahan town, which back in the 60s was part of Naskhon Phanom Province.
I also got info from Thomas Widmer who was stationed at Phu Mu and lived for a bit in Muk.
The following I got from Joe as part of Mekong Express Mail Volume 1, Issue 2. The Thailand Laos Cambodia Brotherhood, Inc. Their wesite www.TLC-Brotherhood.org
I forget where I saw other information about the field being about 2 miles west of the river and other odds and sods.
As far as I have been able to verify to date there were 2 sites in or near Mukdahan town.
Viking RTA base which had the airstrip and a rado site up Phu Mano south of town where Americans were stationed. Go ahead and read all that is in this post and we’ll move on from here. I also have some info on places in town that were there back in the day and will get into that in the next post. Hoping for some more input here. Thanks guys.
“We were flying the squadron’s once-a-month look at Sector 16, which was almost over to Khe Sanh, in our O-1s, when Cricket announced about 1:30 that thunderstorms were forecast for NKP from 1 p.m. on. I asked Cricket to check on current weather. In a few minutes Cricket called back and said a thunderstorm was over the field. (Since we have a couple of weathermen, Dick and Terry, in the crowd, I will not make any comment about forecasting other than the NKP weatherman obviously was going to have that one nailed. We might have been a bit better off if that forecast had been nailed about three hours earlier.) We decided it was time to head for the Mekong, which was about an hour away in an O-1 Bird Dog. During that time thunderstorms built over the entire Mekong basin for as far as mattered to us. By the time we reached the river, we were down to about 300 feet. The winds at NKP were variable and gusty to more than 20 knots. NKP’s metal runway was very slick when wet. (On 14 June I hydroplaned off the side with two wheels, left main and tailwheel, on the new and improved metal runway.) If we had continued to NKP on that 15 April 1967 mission, we never would have stayed on the runway. The controllers told us an earlier flight of O-1s had diverted to Mukdahan. We did not have a clue where that was. However, I believe the radar site down there was Viking. We were told it was about 50 miles south and had a grass strip just west of the Mekong. My area map, which showed some of Thailand, Laos, North Vietnam and South Vietnam, was chopped off about 60 miles south of NKP. There was a little blue circle (I think it was blue) near the Mekong to represent an airfield, but that was not much help. I was running low on gas, so we started south. We contacted Viking for their weather. They had thunderstorms all over them. We turned back north. NKP’s winds were worse than before. We turned back south and decided there was no turning back from there. We were told to fly down the river until we saw buildings on the Laotian side. That would be Savannakhet. Once we got there, we were to turn west and look for a big green field beside a lake. Actually I think they had a couple of radar domes at the site, but I did not notice those until after I got on the ground. We were flying at about 200-300 feet. The flight lead flew his O-1 down the middle of the river, and I flew the left bank to make sure we did not miss Savannakhet. The rain was so heavy I could not make out objects on the Thai side of the river. There was hardly any color to anything beneath the clouds. And, I would remind you we were flying in aircraft with no real capability for flying in the weather. We were equipped with an ADF (Automatic Direction Finding) navigational radio that could point to a selected ground station. However, our ADFs tended to point to the closest thunderstorm, so there was no help there. And, we were not lost anyway. We knew where we were. We just did not quite know where we were going, and the radar site did not have an ADF anyway. Finally I saw some tin-roofed buildings, and we turned toward the Thailand side. I did not see much of anything besides the fuel gauge that was not very encouraging. I had already run one tank dry as normal procedure, so all I had left was what was in the tank that was showing nearly empty. Finally, the flight leader said he had the field in sight. We probably were not more than a half-mile or so from the river, but I cannot tell you much more about the field’s location. If you have something that shows the location of the radar site, that is pretty close for the coordinates of where we landed. The leader swooped down toward the lake and turned back to the northeast over this field that sloped up from the lake. I figured I would see what happened with his landing attempt He dropped a smoke grenade to get an idea what the wind direction was. At that point, I did not really care since I wanted to be down before I ran out of gas. I figured I would just fly my Bird Dog into the ground and handle whatever winds were there. I flew in low over the lake and came down as the ground came up somewhat to meet me. The landing was no problem. About then, I could see the radar domes and two O-1s parked up near them, so I put on some power to get out of the way of the leader’s O-1. I pulled up and some troops in ponchos that were whipping in the wind and rain helped get the bird tied down. We all got drenched. I ran into the closest building and the other two Nail FACs and local troops were waiting inside. The storms passed after an hour or two. We fueled up the four birds and headed back to NKP. After I got back to NKP I wrote up a letter thanking the troops for saving our birds. It was published a couple of weeks later in the NKP News and gave them some well-deserved credit for helping us out of a very dangerous situation.”
The 2 photos add more to the confusion. They are both found in my “Viking” search.
To the best of my knowledge and info the Southeast Corner of Viking is at 16°32’36.31″N 104°43’39.32″E You can go to whichever map you find easiest to work with, I used google earth to measure a 2000 foot runway.
t would be quite helpful is someone could help me orient the photo that shows the airstrip?
Below is some other comms from Joe and Thomas
Tom, here’s a reply to my email to a guy who goes by “scope dope” from his time at Mukdahan.
Joe, haven’t found any of my old documents yet, but from what I remember is that coming down from NKP on, I believe, Highway 212, we came by the Mukdahan School and then turned east toward town and the river. That road going east was on the north end of our landing strip. There was a water tower near that turn. As you were going east, the road to the entrance to the site turned right to the gate/security police checkpoint. The road going east headed toward the Thai Border Patrol checkpoint for the ferry going over to Savannakhet.. On the south end of the site and runway, there was a lake. Across the lake was a Thai prison compound of some type.
Hope this helps a little. – Scope Dope
Thomas Widmer I haven’t been back since 1974 but judging by the current maps I think it is. It jives with my recollection of the ferry landing/customs office being just upriver from the street named Songnang Satit on today’s maps. One block in from the river on that street is what I then (in 1973) called the main intersection of Mukdahan. At that intersection, if you turn south and parallel the river, it “tees” into Borrihan Alley. My old bungalow was right there on the far (south) side of Borrihan Alley. StreetView shows a bunch of small shops there now. If you go back towards the river on Borrihan Alley, at the end of the street Wat Si Mongkol Thai is on your left. Not in the cards for me to ever see Mukdahan again, but I think of it often and wish I could be there with you!
click for the Viking Mukdahan Album
Photos are geotagged
When I first read A Heart released, many years ago, I had mot read the background and information, like that below, and was nearly totally flummoxed. After years in Northeast Thailand with Ajahn Mun’s Dhamma Family,at the places he meditated,I try to treat myself with a bit more kindness and am a bit less uncomfortable, and am less apt to make myself uncomfortable. Thanks to Ajahn Mun, and Chah, and Maha Bua and many more I find it just that little bit less gross in so many areas.
Anyhow never mind Thannissaro’s Introduction, will tell you much about Mun Bhikkhu and his ways and simply let your Heart be Released.
This is a reprint of this post, but see where the US Special Forces were in Sakon Nakhon, Thailand. Larry and I had been communicating with Joe, a Vietnam era veteran who was moving to Thailand for some time. Joe finally arrived in Thailand and got up to Sakon Nakhon, looking to visit the old camp. I knew right where it was having visited it before so off we went. On the North side of the reservoir is the old airstrip and the 2 marker to the south east shows the location of the camp, now utilized by the Thais and the airstrip.
With the help of Khun Prasit, long time friend and mentor we finally got access to the camp and a guide of some rank. We did get to the site of the old runway which was pretty much overgrown. Our guide also took us to the site of what he called the old clinic, which Joe pointed out was not the old clinic….
Loi Krathong occurs on November 14 2016. I first printed this, tongue in cheek stories more than few years ago, and without further ado…
More than 1,500 years ago Nagas ruled the waterways of the earth. From the white nagas of the Alps to the black nagas of the Nile. Over the years the slaughter of the Nagas for their skin, known throughout the world as Naugahyde, decimated their numbers.
But way back then 3 fierce Nagas, namely Huu-aiy, Duu-aiy and Luu-aiy ruled a region along the Mekhong River that would become known as Isaan. The were firce and terrible. They would rape the men and sell the women of villages into slavery. They were short and darker than the other Nagas in the area. The Nagas from other parts of the River would call them lazy and stupid, which only tended to make Huu-aiy, Duu-aiy and Luu-aiy more irritable….
The Thai people are finding many ways to mourn the loss of the man who was their king for 70 years. When first visiting a number of the King’s and Queen’s Projects here in Northeast Thailand, Isaan I was amazed that so few people were aware of the existance and location of these sites. When I first stopped in Sawang Daen Din in Sakon Nakhon searching for the project in Kut Na Kham I had the name of the place and project name in Thai. Okay it is actually in Charoen Sin District adjacent to Sawang Daen Din, but a project of this size I thought District Officers or school teacher might have some knoewledge.
Same with the Phu Phan Royal Development Study Center, a few kilometers outside Sakon Nakhon town. Few people have ever heard about it and even fewer have visited.
I read today that Thailand is goung to the ADB, Asia Developement Bank for a loan for the second phase of the Highways Department’s four-lane main-road construction project on Highway 22. I was somewhat amazed to read that Nattaporn Jatusripitak, an adviser to Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn, said the planned routes extended the project from Udon Thani-Sakon Nakhon, and Sakon Nakhon-Nakhon Phanom to Roi Et-Yasothon.
I have drivdn highway 22 many tmes from Udon Thani-Sakon Nakhon, and Sakon Nakhon-Nakhon Phanom, but in fact it does not go through Nakhon Phanom to Roi Et-Yasothon.
Highwat 23 starts est to east at Highway 2 south of Khon Kaen to RoiEt and Yasothon and carries on to Ubon Ratchatani.
When I first read the article the first thought thsat came to mind was the joint effort by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the State Railroad promoting a tourism project which was train excursions from Khon Kaen to RoiEt.
There is and was no train tracks from Khon Kaen to RoiEt.
When I tried to contact TAT in Bangkok I was told to contact TAT in Khon Kaen and there I was told to contact Bangkok. I do not know how much money was spent on this project, but I feel certain it was substantial.
Now more than half of 22 is already 4 lane, or dual carriageway. Sadly the final 30 or so into Udon town are impeded by vehicles using the shoulder lane for parking and the U-turn access between directions is dangerous and the cause of a number of accidents that I have witnessed.
From what I have noticed Phase 1 must have started about 10 years ago. How much it cost and what was it scheduled to include I have no idea. What specifically is Phase 2 supposed to complete and when? Why does Thailand need an ADB loan for a relatively low cost project? Has or will highway 23 be redesignated highway 22? Why isn’t the continuation of ther road from yasothon to Ubon included?
My big question is is what happened to the EWEC and why is it not being completed prior to the project?
Is this just another government fiddle?
In other than a fictional land journalists migh be questioning this announcement?
Over the years I have seen projects identified, the costs and the purpose and rarely have i seen 1 completed, or if completed of a poor standard.
My point in this post is simply: Where does all the money go?
Is anyone ever held responsible for projects tha are not completed, or shoddily completed?
And most of all the people who suffer from inadequet roads and services.
Over the years I have heard many excuses and reasons about wealthy monks and monks having money, both in Thailand and America. Luckily Bhikkhu Ariyesako explains things clearly in “The Bhikkhus’ Rules,A Guide for Laypeople
There are many other important rules covering how bhikkhus deal with wealth and money. (It is also the tenth of the Ten Precepts for a novice (saama.nera) or dasasii