Singapore, What Wat?

What Wat? Our Lady of Lourdes, Ophir Road, Singapore


An occasional look at Wats and other places of worship within the region.



The Church of our Lady of Lourdes was built between 1886 and 1888 by Father Joachim Alexander Marie Meneuvrier and named after the Church of our Lady of Lourdes located in Lourdes, France.

In 1885, the government provided a piece of land, originally a swamp, for the establishment of a church. Bishop Gasnier laid the cornerstone of the building on 1 August 1886, and the building was completed and officially dedicated in May 1888.



In 1974, the church authorities gave up the status of being an Indian Roman Catholic Church and chose to serve Catholics of all ethnicities and languages.


During the Japanese Occupation, two bombs fell on the church grounds, causing substantial damage. Miraculously, however, the church did not suffer any damage. The troops occupied the church until their surrender to the British in 1945.


Our Lady of Lourdes was gazetted as a national monument on 14 January 2005.




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Cambodia, What Wat?

What Wat? Chinese Temple, Kampong Cham, Cambodia

Chinese Temple, K

Chinese Temple, Kampong Cham, Cambodia

I don’t know why, but I always have difficulty discovering the names of Chinese temples. It was the same for this little,  somewhat plain one in Kampong Cham.

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And there wasn’t anyone to ask as there wasn’t a soul there when I visited.

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The temple grounds house a large Chinese school although school was out on this day.

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Anyone for table tennis?

Open but no one around…

Cambodia, What Wat?

What Wat? Masjid Alihsan

An occasional look at Wats and other places of worship within the region.DSC_0133

The most unlovely Masjid Alihsan sits on a dusty rural street in Cambodia’s Tbong Khmum province.

It’s a poor area with thatched homes and roaming cows and raggedly-dressed children. It is one of a few places in Cambodia where there are many more Muslim residents than there are  Buddhist.

There is not a large population here, but there are three mosques on this road, all within a few hundred yards of each other. A Buddhist temple sits at the end of the street




Thailand, What Wat?

What Wat? Wat Bpaak Naam, Hat Yai, Southern Thailand

An occasional look at Wats and other places of worship within the region.DSC_0174

 Its official name is Wat Mongkol Taypaaraam, but the locals call it Wat Bpaak Naam.

Bpaak Naam means the rivermouth.


While Wat Bpaak Naam is very near the main marketplace of Hat Yai town, the feeling was one of peace the first time I visited. The second time I wandered around I heard the sound of Monks chanting blessings to a large group and there was another sizeable group of white-clad woman praying in the hall below.


Nevertheless, Wat Bpaak Naam still had a serenity about it; it’s not the most awe-inspiring or attractive of temples but it has something…


Work is still ongoing after starting in 2011-perhaps this will be new monk quarters, among other things .


The Wat has a clutter of cats. They are, one of the Monks told me, frequently dropped there if the animal is sick or the owners cannot continue to look after them.


What Wat?

What Wat? Zion Cathedral

An occasional look at Wats and other places of worship within the region.


The Zion Cathedral is in Brickfields, the site of Kuala Lumpur’s Little India, and is home to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church is one-hundred-thirteen years old, and the current cathedral was built in 1924.

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The church began by serving Indians who arrived from Tamil Nadu and Tamils still make up the majority of the congregation today. However, services are also held in English, Bahasa Malaysian, and recently Indonesian services began, too.

The first local bishop was consecrated in 1976, and now the Lutheran church has twenty congregations and sixteen pastors across Malaysia.


Cambodia, What Wat?

What Wat? Wat Roka Thom

An occasional looks at Wats and other places of worship within the region.

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 Wat Roka Thom sits on the banks of the Mekong river in Tboung Khmum province. Directly opposite is the city of Kampong Cham.

It is a Muslim Cham dominated area; there are 3 mosques on the short road that leads to this Buddhist temple.


The city of Kampong Cham lies opposite Wat Roka Thom

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It was deserted in the early morning that I was there, save for one elderly monk who was in the midst of a very long phone call.

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Wat Roka Thom is yet another Khmer temple falling into disrepair. A Sima, or marker stone, is an important part of any Buddhist temple and I’ve not seen one broken and left like this.

Lack of money to fix it, or not, it just felt disrespectful.

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Unloved and unlovely but it occupies a beautiful piece of real estate. And in the early morning it has that rare commodity- peace.

Thailand, What Wat?

What Wat? Wat Dokkham, Chiang Mai, Thailand

An occasional look at Wats and other places of worship within the region.



Wat Dokkham is on Moonmuang Road in the old part of Chiang Mai.

In a city of many resplendent temples, Wat Dokkham is rather plain and it’s halls and grounds are small.


The Wihan does have a splendid Buddha set against a rich burgundy and gold backdrop…


…and an interesting mural, or two.


There wasn’t any information on the Wat in the grounds themselves, or on the internet.






Cambodia, What Wat?

What Wat: Independent Baptist Church, Kampong Chhnang

An occasional look at Wats and other places of worship within the region.DSC_0474


There is not much to show of this church in the town of Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia.

It is one of approximately 40 Christian churches in Kampong Chhnang.

This to my mind, is a staggeringly high number, for a province that has 540,000 residents of which just 2% claim to be Christian.

Only a very few of Cambodia’s Christian congregations are able to support a full-time pastor.





Cambodia, What Wat?

What Wat? Wat Svay Krav

An occasional look at Wats and other places of worship within the region.


Any wat with monkeys is a good wat.

And Wat Svay Krav in Kandal province’s Kein Svay district has a horde of them. Although while I was there the temple dogs were doing an excellent job of chasing them away.


Like so many Cambodian wats, it hasn’t had a lot of care in recent years. You can see that it at leasts needs a good clean, if not a new paint job. And the paintings above the doors of the vihara are badly faded.





‘The vaulted ceiling of the vihara has some of the best paintings that can be seen in Cambodia. Executed on stucco in intense colours, they show devatas asking a woman to become the mother of Vessantara, others praying to a Bodhisattva to incarnate as the Buddha, while yet others play stringed instruments or hold flowers.’

~Buddhist Painting in Cambodia

by Vittoria Roveda and Sothon Yem

Unfortunately the vihara was closed on my visit. Life can be cruel.


Never mind. Often Cambodian wats are unkempt and even dull, but they can be brought to life by the actual living that goes on in them.

Usually there are at least a few kids careering around, or, as above, sitting quietly under a tree. Usually, too, they are most happy to see someone different looking enter the scene.


There was a clean-up of sorts going on while I was there. Such little rubbish fires are a feature all through Cambodia, even in the cities and the towns.


Like many other Cambodian temples, Wat Svay Krav has a school within its compound. This school was quite large and a hundred or so youngsters were going through an early morning exercise routine when I arrived. The ones below seem to have escaped those drills and were delighted to have a photograph taken despite the smoke that was wafting past the window.