Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Temple Stop

One aspect of being "along for the ride" when you're winding up a trip is that you don't have to do much. You just buckle up, gaze out the window and, if lucky, snooze a bit.  That's how it was for me as we drove north to Bangkok, Kade's brother behind the wheel.  Kade had said we were going to see some temples in Phetchaburi, and that was okay with me.  I knew almost nothing about the town except what a friend of mine told me a few weeks before:  It has lots of temples, an intriguing history, a quieter vibe than other beach towns and that he was considering retiring and moving there.  

We pulled inside the gates of a temple in the center of town - Wat Mahathat Worawihan.  It's recognized for its tall, five-prang white stupa.  We parked the car, and then got out.  It was scorching hot.  Kade's parents and sister were in another car, and had not made it yet.  But we went on in.  There were actually two halls with Buddhas, and then the stupa just behind them. One of the halls had been visited by the late king, Rama IX, and later his daughter.

The beauty of Thai temples to me is that you don't have to be a Buddhist to enter.  And if you are a foreigner or tourist, so long as you're abiding by basic protocol (e.g. shoes and hats off, no touching objects, speaking softly, etc.), you pretty much have access to all parts of the temple.  And if you have a camcorder or smartphone and want to video and take photos, no problem.  In fact, you might even have more leeway than Thais might.  If something goes wrong, well, you can always plead ignorant. As many temples I have been in, I don't recall ever having an incident of any kind, or even being looked at funny. And although putting a few baht in the donation box would be appreciated, I leave that to Kade.  I have been in and out of numerous temples without making any donation.  In other words, it's not expected.     

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