Hidden and out of the way, Wat Hua Krabeu is run by a rather eccentric abbott who first came to attention when he turned a corner of his temple into a resting spot for old Mercedes. Many felt that all the luxury cars violated a Buddhist tenet against material possession, but the abbott claimed that the autos were just in need of appreciation and shouldn’t be left to rot. Since then, the temple has started a crusade to pay homage to the water buffalo. Long a symbol of Thailand and vital part of the rice growing history, the buffalo today is dying out, replaced by machines, as well as its meat being used as a delicacy. The buffalo population in Thailand has gone from six million down to two million, and the reality is that they will vanish if steps are not taken to help them.
At Wat Hua Krabeu, the abbott gets donations with which to buy buffalo skulls from slaughterhouses, and is erecting a two story structure full of memorabilia that will serve as a memorial to the buffalo, reached by passing through a tunnel made entirely of buffalo skulls! Initially, a few villagers left skulls at the temple in memory of their deceased buffaloes, and as the abbott progressed with his memorial idea, he asked others to donate skulls whenever their animals died. Many contributions have come from the nearby and appropriately named “buffalo head” village, where old age is claiming the lives of a once healthy population.
You need a taxi or your own wheels to get out here, it is just past the Outer Ring Road intersection with Rama II, and most taxi drivers in the area know it. The canal community around the temple is vintage old Bangkok, with kids still getting rowed to school by their parents, and nearby out on the highway, motorists stop to feed large packs of macaque monkeys that come in droves for the handouts, so you can make a full day of a trip out here.