Monday, November 18, 2013

Wat Pho, More Than a Temple

One of my biggest surprises in Thailand was that a visit to a temple often turned out to be a visit to a whole temple complex. Unlike a church where people usually go for a particular service, the Thai temples were places to hang out. Whole families would come to spend time together. They might go inside one of the buildings to pray, but they also might sit down and have a picnic! Children ran from one end to the other and vendors hawked drinks and candies. There were even a couple of cats on hand to keep us company.

At Wat Pho the most important feature is the statue of the Reclining Buddha. He's in a big room by himself. (In fact, the temple is named for a monastery in India where the Buddha might have lived at one time.) All the tourists, most of whom were Thai, were trying to get a picture, but we were having a hard time fitting the statue into a single shot.

Even though we'd assumed we would only need an hour to visit the temple, instead we wound up spending several. The architecture was so unique and beautiful that I wandered around taking as many pictures as possible. 

 Several times I got stopped by English students who wanted to interview me for their homework assignment. What a clever teacher! Even though most of the students couldn't understand what I said, I helped them cheat by writing down the answers!

I was so impressed with the temple that I made it the very first stop on Rachel's itinerary when she drags her sister to all the important tourist sites in THAI TWIST. No decent visit to Bangkok would be complete without a thorough visit to one of the city's oldest and most important spots.

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