Wat?

Inevitably, wherever you travel it seems that you wind up in religious buildings. In Europe you see one massive Cathedrals after another and in Asia you see Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu Temples. Religious buildings are usually some of the best preserved buildings as offering a look at what is important to the local population. With more travel you are able to tell the subtle differences between locations and beliefs and also likely to get tired of seeing similar buildings repeatedly. In Bangkok there are Wat’s scattered all over the city. These range from the grand to the more basic. There are a number where tout’s promise you good luck and fortune with a visit, but most are calm, filled with contemplation. This trip we kept our visits limited, seeing just two. This left us wanting to visit more and promised some additional sights on a return trip to Bangkok. The most magnificent that we visited was part of the Grand Palace, the sometimes home of Thai Kings, including the current ruler, King Rama IX. As befitting Royal grounds, the collection of temples and monasteries were incredibly ornate. The most important religious site in the complex is the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, featuring a giant carved jade buddha. The other buildings featured gold leaf, intricate carvings, numerous religious artifacts and a wide variety of gems. Like cathedrals in Europe, the Wats in Thailand were designed to honor Buddha without sparing expense. The other Wat that we visited was right next to the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Chetuphon, that featured a massive reclining Buddha. Far less crowded with tourists than the Grand Palace, this had more of the feeling of a working religious building, rather than a tourist attraction. The lower visitor numbers allowed for a calm, reflective pace as we walked through, sharing the space with practicing Monks.

The Wat’s in Thailand differed enough from Tibetan and Chinese Monastaries to really feel unique. The fact that we only saw these two also ensured that we did not have Temple overload. What they did not do, however, was give that close of a view into the life of a Thai Monk. When I plan my return to Thailand I would really like to see this aspect of Buddhism in Thailand. Have you been to Thailand? If so, where is the best place to observe this?

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  1. September 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I love the picture with the monk, he just pops out of the image.

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