On the road between Ubon Ratchathani and the Laos border (click to see the actual location), is the Gong producing center of Thailand.
I’ve been on this stretch of road twice. Once while on a border run with Werewolf last year and this year on a exploratory drive into the countryside with a friend in search of adventure and a tasty lunch on the banks of the Mekong River.
You are in the middle of nowhere, on a road with very little traffic, and all of sudden every 50 meters is a house with a full selection of hand crafted gongs on display.
It’s funny sometimes how much of the cheap handicrafts sold to Thailand tourists is actually made in China and Vietnam.
These gongs, however, are actually made in Thailand.
How do I know?
I walked to the back of the house and took a look at the workshop/factory.
This family had a couple of arc welders, a lathe, an electric grinder and a pile of scrap steel which they use to fabricate the gongs.
It’s actually a pretty cool workshop that could be used to fabricate a lot of stuff and a sizable investment in supplies and equipment given the neighborhood.
And here is the guy actually at work and some of gongs awaiting completion.
I guess Henry Ford’s idea of the moving assembly line and other modern day industrial innovations haven’t penetrated this far into the jungle.
There were waaaay to many of gongs lying around to be sold to passing motorists, so my guess is that these are sold all over Thailand in gift shops at marked up prices.
Besides the gong’s there were a selection of wind chimes and bells for sale.
Each gong comes with a cool hand crafted mallet whose handle is turned out on the lathe.
My friend bought this size gong.
The original asking price, including mallet, was 2800 THB which was bargained down to 1800 THB.
It produces a rich deep satisfying sound when banged and is a ton of fun to play with — sort of like a women.
Bang it once and you just want to keep on banging it over and over again — sort of like some women.
My friend is married and I suggested he hang it over his bed and hit the gong:
1) When he wants to bang his wife to let her know.
2) When he is done banging his wife and achieved nirvana.
3) When his wife has achieved nirvanna.
4) When they achieve nirvanna together.
5) To annoy his neighbors.
None of these suggestions was met with much enthusiasm or laughter.
Something about getting married must sap people’s sense of humor.