We are in Bangkok!
Wandering around the old part (near Wat Sraket or the Golden Mount temple) of Asia’s most lively city we arrived in an area where almost all shops were selling Buddha statues. In Asia it seems to be common that shops selling the same things gather in one and the same street. Let’s call this one Buddha Street.
There was a lot to choose from! Buddha statues were available in all sizes and shapes: standing up, sitting down, with or without multi-headed snakes and much more. Some had staggering price tags up to USD 8,000! In that same street men were constantly loading trucks and Tuk-Tuks to deliver all these statues to temples, communities or wealthy Thai. Buddha seemed to be big business.
Strolling left and right we suddenly found ourselves in a narrow alley. Looking from the main road this alley didn’t offer anything interesting, one you would normally pass and neglect. Curious as we are we looked around the first corner and found a great collection of Buddha statues that were being finished or renovated. We pushed our backs against the wall when one statue after the other was carried from the main street into this alley. This great place allowed me to get real close to Buddha….
Buddha is big business. We visited some Buddhist temples where ceremonies were held. Buddhist monks were available to pray with or talk to (as long as their cell phone didn’t call them away to the wireless dimension). People had been very creative finding ways to collect money for the good cause: throw money in bowls, make flowers of money bills, and free little birds out of their cage. Everywhere the donation box was well filled.
One of the more interesting activities our kids joined was the good-wish-candle ceremony (I just made that name up, but it does sound good doesn’t it?) You could write a wish on a piece of wax and after giving a donation you had to drop the wax (with the wish written on it) into a bowl where it melted.
Making sure you didn’t get the boiling stuff on your arm, you had to pour some of the melted wax in a big metal column. In the end all the wax together will turn into one big candle that will set free the wishes after being burned inside a temple. Don’t you just love these kinds of ceremonies?
After all this serious stuff we went back on the streets and convinced some Thai fashion models to take pictures with us!
Next stop: Sukhothai.