Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wat Arun - Bangkok, Thailand

We previously posted a couple pictures of Wat Arun here in Bangkok, but recently we went to the area again with Pae's dad, to visit a Buddhist monk that he knew from 40 years ago. I think the two of them lived at the same temple at the time, in their youth.Here are a few of the temple grounds, with what appeared to be everyday life for young monks, studying, yard work, practicing their "chants", etc.We actually got to go inside the monks "home", probably a little against the "rules" but that's nothing out of the ordinary here or any other religion in any other part of the world for that matter. Catholic priests are the first who come to mind. Anyway, I snuck a few pictures while the others were "catching up"...Wat Arun looks pretty cool from far away, a big whitish chedi jutting into the skyline on the opposite bank of the Chao Phaya River from Bangkok.But it looks even cooler when you get up close and see the intricacy and detail of every inch of the temple. The temple is a popular tourist attraction and is even on the back of the ten baht coin. I see the monks almost daily, even though I don't actually go to a temple. The monks don't work, rather, they go about the community and receive alms from Buddhist followers. They are not allowed to cook food, so they depend of the daily donations for their sustenance. Another interesting thing is that they eat their last meal of the day before noon.When I go to work in the mornings, there are people waiting in front of their homes or on the street for the monk to walk by with his little alms pot. When the monk approaches them, they greet him, give him edible things such as soups, rice, curries, fruit, milk, juice, etc. All of this while they are on their knees out of respect for the monk. The monk will then give a short prayer and then be on his way. Oftentimes, certain days again, they get so much donated that there is always a kid on a bike following the monk to help carry all of the food. I was reading a little and found out that there are actually ten types of meat that monks are not allowed to eat; human flesh (good call), elephant, yellow tiger, tiger, leopard, bear, lion, snake, dog and horse. I wonder if giraffe would be on the list if we had giraffes here in Thailand?I've seen several people near our apartment engage in one-sided small talk with the monk before the monk gives the chant or prayer. I'm assuming, for example in the case of the internet cafe dude on the corner, that he is telling the monk how business is, or how his health is, or how his family is...giving the donation, and then the monk gives a prayer more personalized to him...makes more sense to me if that's how it happens.To me, even after two years here, it can still prove a cultural spectacle. It's even cool to sit and listen to the monk or monks chant. They chant in a different language, not Thai. I believe it is "Pali", and when they chant as a group it sounds pretty amazing. I'll post one of the chants that I got on video from a wedding one of these days...

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