What’s a Wat?

I am here in the Student Center waiting for my laundry to be done and it is time for another post.  Tomorrow Chuck and I will make a long trek to the ruins of the old capital, the ancient city of Ayutthaya (a-Yoot-ta-ya)  and I realized I haven’t even sent pictures of the temples we have visited so far.  By the way, What’s a Wat? —a Buddhist temple.

Two weeks ago on Saturday we took the old train which runs close by downtown to see what we could see.  It was certainly no luxury train.  We had to walk a mile to board, the seats were old and hard and it had no air conditioning.  But it did have fans and was right on time and the price was right—-free on the way down and 18 cents each on the way back.  The day was incredibly hot and we did not see all we had hoped to see but it was a good day of sight-seeing nonetheless.

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 The OLD train.  They have newer trains, of course.  When we go to Ayutthaya we’ll take this train downtown, then catch a similar train there.  Total travel time 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

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Wat Tramit

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An outdoor shrine near the wat

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A new monk praying

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The world’s largest solid 18 carat gold Buddha weighing 5 tons

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Chandelier over the Buddha

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Another small Wat we visited

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We saw this procession of the family and friends and a new monk heading for an installation ceremony.  Most monks, we are told, are only monks for a short period–anywhere from 3 months to 3 weeks.  However, some will go for much longer periods including some who are monks for life.   There are hundreds of rules they must observe and whatever else they do, they survive by highly-ritualized begging.  Buddhists believe that in order to be reincarnated to a better life next time they gain merit-  the more, the better.  Giving gifts to a monk gains merit.  Becoming a monk gains merit and this is traditionally  dedicated to his mother for her benefit.  This is an important act of filial devotion. When we return, we’ll have more to say about this in our presentations.

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This picture, and the following ones are from our visit to Wat Pho which was an amazing place.  It was hard to photograph because the sun was SO bright, I couldn’t see what I was taking sometimes which means I sometimes missed the tops of  some things.

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The reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.  He is half a football field long.

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Here people can gain merit by purchasing these coins and then depositing them in the monk’s bowls pictured below.

 

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If anyone is improperly dressed–shorts, uncovered shoulders, etc.–they must wear  one of these coats.

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At first I thought this was funny but, after consideration, I think it is good advice to beware of your valuable possessions.

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The last thing we did was climb the Golden Mount for a great view of the massive city of Bangkok.

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Here we are at the top!

 

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