Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai’s most revered temple. It is named for the city’s holiest Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing.
I read somewhere that Wat Phra Singh is beautiful at night. It is, but it isn’t especially well lit, suggesting to me that night visits are not particularly encouraged.
A monk did tell us that we were welcome to enjoy the temple grounds until 9:00pm, but the temple buildings were closed to the public. We returned on the morning of the day we left Chiang Mai.
Wihan Luang, above and below, is the main assembly hall where monks and laypeople congregate. The current building replaced the original in 1925.
Most of the other temple structures are located behind Wihan Luang, including Wihan Lai Kham, the Phrathatluang chedi, and the bot, shown below.
With a a south entrance for monks and a north entrance for nuns, Wat Phra Singh’s bot is as actually a song sangha ubosot. A bot is an ordination hall, and the most sacred area of many wats.
Regardless of which entrance you use you can access all of the interior of the bot. A structure in the middle displays Buddhas and more on 4 sides.
There are effigies of many venerable monks at Wat Phra Singh, both life-like and metallic, and the bot displays quite a few.
The photo below, from 2008, shows the Phrathatluang chedi before it was covered in gold.
Built in 1345, and enlarged several times, Phrathatluang features the front half of an elephant emerging from each side. There are smaller chedi on 3 sides.
At the back of the compound a small temple has room for little more than a large reclining Buddha.
Between Reclining Buddha Temple and the chedi is a sort of pavilion sheltering Buddha statues in various styles.
The Kulai chedi was built by King Mueangkaeo (1495-1525). When the chedi was restored under King Dharmalanka (1813-1822), a golden box containing ancient relics was found. After the restoration was completed, the box and its contents were returned to the chedi.
Kulai chedi is connected to the back of Wihan Lai Kham by a short tunnel which is not open to the public.
Wihan Lai Kham was built in 1345 to house the Phra Buddha Singh statue.
The Phra Buddha Sihing statue (seen in the 2 pictures below) is said to be based on the lion of Shakya, now lost, which was once located at the Mahabodhi Temple of Bodh Gaya, India where Buddha reached enlightenment.
It is also said that the head of the statue was stolen in 1922, so the head may be a copy.
Next to the front of Wihan Luang is the Ho Trai, considered one of the most beautiful temple libraries in Thailand.
I’d had a steady regimen of temples since arriving in Thailand, and the pace increased in Chiang Mai. Wat Phra Singh holds its own among the old temples of Chiang Mai’s Old City. It held a special interest for my Thai Buddhist companions.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 26 pictures below.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is located on Doi Suthep mountain with a beautiful view over Chiang Mai. It is one of the most sacred temples in northern Thailand.
The first chedi is said to have been built in 1383. It is the most holy area in the temple grounds.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is 15 km from Chiang Mai. I consulted Google Maps for a place to get breakfast on the way out of the city and found a convenient group of restaurants, cafes and shops near scenic Huay Keaw Waterfall, just past the Chiang Mai Zoo.
You can just see the stream and trees from the car park.
I went for a picture of the river, and decided to follow it just a bit further upstream.
It isn’t too far to the waterfall. I saw trails that lead deeper into the Huay Keaw Waterfall area, which looks to be well worth exploring further.
From Huay Keaw Waterfall we started up the winding road into Doi Suthep. The parking area near the temple actually has a large number of restaurants and shops.
You can choose to walk the 309 steps to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Climbing the stairs is a way to achieve Buddhist merit. We chose to pay a small fee to take the tram.
The outer temple grounds feature shrines and gardens and the walls of the inner temple grounds.
There are several viewing platforms looking over Chiang Mai.
The structure below provides much needed shade for the highest platform.
The structure itself is decorated with lots of intricate detail.
According to legend, a bone fragment said to be the shoulder bone of the Buddha was placed on the back of a white elephant, and the elephant was released into the jungle. The elephant climbed up Doi Suthep, stopped, trumpeted three times, then dropped dead. The king promptly ordered the construction of a temple at the site.
Considering the nature of this origin legend, there are very few white elephants at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The elephant below, although the color of the material from which it is constructed, is the elephant of legend.
To enter the inner temple grounds you must remove shoes and hat, and wear appropriate clothing. There was no one watching to insure that visitors complied. Inner temple grounds are not all sheltered from the sun, so this is one of those times when you have a problem if you were relying on a hat, rather than sunscreen, to protect your head.
Various shrines and effigies are situated around the large gold chedi, which presumably contains the legendary shoulder bone of the Buddha. We joined many other visitors in walking around it in a clockwise direction 3 times.
There are several attractive green glass Buddhas, and many gold ones.
The Phaya Naga decorating many of the roofs are done in stained glass, very similar to those at the Dragon Temple in Chiang Mai’s Old City.
Visitors to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep included many monks.
Some cuter than others.
The temple is located in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. This is surely a beautiful place, with at least a couple of waterfalls and many nature trails. Unfortunately we had neither time nor energy to explore further.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 41 pictures below.
Chiang Mai is nestled among the forested foothills of Thailand’s mountainous northwest. Old City is dominated by temples and surrounded by a medieval wall and moat.
We immediately noticed that there are a lot of foreigners in Chiang Mai. What I noticed was the large number of North Americans and Europeans. It was only on the second day that I noticed the large numbers of Chinese and Koreans.
Above are the gate to Chiang Mai’s City Pillar Shrine and Wat Chedi Luang and the giant tree that towers over the walls. Below you can see the City Pillar Shrine, the nearest building. There is a small fee to enter this temple complex.
The City Pillar or Lak Mueang was moved here from Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang in 1800 by King Chao Kawila. I don’t know why this City Pillar is in the shape of a human figure, unlike those in Udon Thani and Ban Dung – or why women are forbidden to enter this shrine.
Next door is a wihan, the shrine hall that contains the principal Buddha images of this temple complex. This is the assembly hall where monks and laypeople congregate.
Among the Buddha images inside is Phra Chao Attarot (Eighteen-cubit Buddha).
Behind the wihan is Wat Chedi Luang. Construction of this temple started in the 14th century, but finished in the 15thn century. It was then 82 meters high and had a base diameter of 54 meters, at that time the largest building in the Lanna Kingdom.
In 1545, the upper 30 meters of the structure collapsed after an earthquake.
In the early 1990s the chedi was reconstructed, financed by UNESCO and the Japanese government. The result is somewhat controversial, as some claim the new elements are in Central Thai style, not Lanna style. The top was not reconstructed because no one knows what it looked like.
Some of the temple’s elephants were reconstructed.
From the chedi/stupa there’s more space to get a good look at the wihan.
The chedi is surrounded by impressive buildings and statues and such.
Wat Chedi Luang hosts monk chats daily. Tourists are invited to speak with monks (usually novices) and ask them anything about Buddhism or Thailand.
We had set out on a walking tour of Old City temples. City Pillar Shrine and Wat Chedi Luang are highlights of Chiang Mai’s Old City. They became our first stop because they were near our hotel, and too enticing to save for later.
With over 120 temples within the city walls it is important to prioritize. We had a route and a map, but I’d suggest reviewing each temple on any such tour to be identify the ones you most want to visit. Walking between sites is tiring in the Thai heat, and we spent a good amount of time at many of the temples sites we visited.
City Pillar Shrine and Wat Chedi Luang are a must-see in Chiang Mai.
Even though we left Wat Chedi Luang with new ideas about the length of temple visits, and knowing that it would be important to prioritize, we made it less than a block along Prapokkloa Road before we made an unplanned stop at nearby Wat Phan Tao.
Wat Phan Tao was founded in the 14th century. Like most of the temples of that time, it is constructed from teak with gold accents.
An especially striking teak and gold temple beckoned from Intrawarot Road. We didn’t realize at the time that this is Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang, the original home of the City Pillar.
Three Kings Monument is a bronze statue of and shrine to Kings Mengrai, Ramkamhaeng and Ngam Muang, who worked together in the late 1200’s to design and build Chiang Mai.
Less than a minute away from our next destination we were drawn into a small alley by the beauty of Wat Lam Chang. The gardens contribute nicely to the beauty of this small temple next to ruins of an old chedi.
Lam Chang means “shackled elephants”. King Mengrai kept his white elephants in the forested area here during the construction of Chiang Mai.
King Mengrai lived at the location of Wat Chiang Man during the building of Chinag Mai.
In 1297 he built Wat Chiang Man as Chiang Mai’s first temple. One of the standing Buddhas below is said to be the oldest intact Buddha in Chiang Mai. It has the year 1465 CE engraved on its base.
Chiang Mai was build to replace Chiang Rai as the capitol of the Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Mai means “New City”. The Lanna Kingdom became the Kingdom of Chiang Mai, a tributary state of Thailand from 1774 to 1899, and then the seat of a ceremonial prince until 1939.
Also inside the wihan is a display with 9 different Buddha statues, with signs suggesting appropriate prayers for 8 of them. Those 8 are each associated with a different day of the week, with Wednesday morning and evening separately represented. Depending on the day you were born, one pose will have particular significance for you.
Before my little Tukata explained further, I saw it as a gallery of the various Buddha statue poses. From left to right they are (above): Earth Touching Buddha, the most common pose found in Thai temples, Sunday Buddha is similar to Contemplation Buddha, and the pose suggests mental insight, and Protection Buddha (Monday).
Below middle: Reclining Buddha (Tuesday), Alms Collecting Buddha (with the bowl for donations – Wednesday morning).
Below: Buddha sitting with Monkey and Elephant (Wednesday evening), Meditation Buddha (Thursday), Naga Buddha (Friday).
There are more poses that appear in traditional Buddha statues. You can learn about them in more detail here.
The ‘Elephant Chedi’ is the oldest construction in the Wat Chiang Man temple complex.
There’s an outdoor shrine to King Mengrai.
I found the shrine below to be a very cool and innovative approach.
Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang (Wat Hua Khuang) is hidden away in the middle of an Old City block, and the buildings seem to be open to visitors at limited or irregular hours, but it’s one of my favorite temple complexes in Chiang Mai.
The area is crowded with structures, but full of spectacular detail.
There don’t seem to be many tourists here.
A Google Maps review suggests that some of the architecture may show a Burmese style.
The stupa would appear to be the oldest structure at the site.
Some reviews warn about the stray dogs. I couldn’t miss them, but they gave us no trouble.
Our walking tour of Chiang Mai’s Old City temples continued, but experience has taught me to limit the size of my posts. I’ll bring you the second half of our walking tour in my next post.
As always, Wikipedia was invaluable in providing information for this post.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 60 pictures below.
Wat Phra Thaen is a temple surrounded by giant sculptures that tell a wide selection of Buddhist folktales and parables. From the street you can see two giant Buddhas and dozens of human and animal figures, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Not every sculpture and scene are part of a story. Below I’ll tell you the ones I know, mostly as told to me by my little Tukata.
Note the old man with the young wife in the ox cart in the picture below. They are situated in a fairly prominent spot near the front gates of the temple.
The old man, Chu Chuuk, seems to have taken advantage of many who were just trying to be good people. His friend owed him money, and had to give him his beautiful and good hearted daughter Amitada. She was so good to him that his peers started to criticize their own wives, so Amitada asked for a slave, so that she wouldn’t be seen to work quite so hard. Chu Chuuk asked the prince, who aspired to be a Buddha. The prince gave Chu Chuuk his own son and daughter. Chu Chuuk took a wrong turn on his way home, and was seen the the king. The king paid Chu Chuuk with money and food for the return of his niece and nephew. Chu Chuuk was so greedy that he ate until he burst. His wealth was offered to Amitada, who declined, and simply went home to her father.
A monkey and an elephant wanted to be good creatures, and to serve the Buddha. The monkey brought the Buddha a gift of wild honey. The elephant, shown here bringing flowers, offered to serve him – it sounds like the elephant offered to become the Buddha’s beast of burden.
It isn’t always clear to me what the moral of the story is, and in some cases there may not be one.
An angel-like being took the form of an old man and went to speak with a king. He explained to the king that he had no wife, and badly needed one. The king aspired to a Buddha-like level of goodness, and offered his own wife to the old man. The queen in the scene below seems to approve of the arrangement. The angel-like creature then revealed itself, and the king got to keep his wife.
The Buddha left his home and life behind to seek enlightenment. When his mother became ill he returned to help her and to be with her when she died.
Phra Mae Thorani , the earth mother of southeast Asia, came to the Buddha’s aid when Mara, the Evil One, tried to stop him from reaching enlightenment.
“Mara brought his warriors, wild animals and his daughters, and tried to drive the Bodhisattva from his throne. All the gods were terrified and fled, leaving the Bodhisattva alone to face Mara’s challenge. The Bodhisattva stretched down his right hand and touched the earth, summoning Phra Mae Thorani to be his witness. The earth deity in the form of a beautiful woman rose up from underneath the throne, and affirmed the Bodhisattva’s right to occupy the vajriisana. She twisted her long hair, and torrents of water collected there from the innumerable donative libations of the Buddha over the ages created a flood. The flood washed away Mara and his army, and the Bodhisattva was freed to reach enlightenment.” – A Study of the History and Cult of the Buddhist Earth Deity in Mainland Southeast Asia
Some monks would isolate themselves in the forest, live in a hollow tree, eat only fruit, and spend their days in meditation.
The scene below seems to simply show a teacher at work. Several giant birds seem to be enthralled with the lesson.
A giant monk-like figure currently under construction is by far the largest effigy at Wat Phra Thaen.
Below is a whole array of figures and some interesting architecture.
A closer look at the reclining Buddha.
Zoom in for a close look at the figures on the rooftop in the picture below. There are some very cool Phaya Naga, including a couple entwined with some kind of Thai mermen.
The golden hour cast a flattering light on the Buddha, monks and temple in the picture below.
The temple below has a unique style. I haven’t seen one quite like it. The Phaya Naga flanking the stairs are entwined with Thai mermen like on the roof above, something I haven’t seen elsewhere.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 26 pictures below.
The park is covered with deciduous and evergreen forests, along with various types of bamboo and herbs. Wild hogs, barking deer, mouse deer, monkeys, and many species of birds call the park home.
We had lunch near the lookout tower above, and took in the view below.
Phu Pha Lek confirmed my suspicion that everything in Thailand – waterfalls, mountains, and even national parks – must also be a temple.
Wat Tham Phuang is a series of temples in the park, many of which tell a story from the life of the Buddha. We started at the temple dedicated to the end of his life, but I’ll take you first to the last temple that we saw, and give you the story of the Buddha in chronological order, as told to me by the temples of Wat Tham Phuang, and by my little Tukata.
I’ve given names to the temples that make up Wat Tham Phuang, but it isn’t likely that anyone else calls them by these names.
The big temple doesn’t actually tell a story. It has a more standard temple theme.
It provides space for large congregations.
The rock of the mountain is incorporated into the building.
Below is one of the main entrances.
The resident monks seem to live near the big temple.
Below is a shrine to a venerable monk.
I would guess that this monk founded one of the original temples here in the park.
Near this shrine we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of a monkey, some kind of macaque I think, in the trees.
The small temple below is dedicated to the birth of the Buddha.
It is said that Siddhartha Gautama, who would become a spiritual teacher, and later come to be known as the Buddha, didn’t cry when he was born. He stood, and took seven steps. Then he raised one hand into the air and proclaimed himself the Buddha. Then he slept, and when he woke he behaved as a normal baby, and proceeded to develop as a regular human being.
There’s a rest area with a roof and water for drinking and a great view.
Among the trees near the rest area is the small temple shown below. We didn’t go in for a closer look, so I don’t know if the figure inside is the Buddha, or whether this temple has a story to tell.
The temple below has a real Aztec look to it. I saw other Thai temples that make me think of the Aztecs, but they’re all ruins.
This temple is focused on the time that the Buddha spent meditating under the Bodhi Tree in order to reach enlightenment.
The Bodhi Tree was a large and very old sacred fig tree located in Bodh Gaya. In religious iconography, the Bodhi Tree is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which you can see in the picture above.
Each of the four towers has a small temple inside of it.
Nearby is a small temple with stairs flanked by Phaya Naga.
A small shrine to Phra Mae Thorani sits above a pool next to the temple above. She is Thailand’s earth mother, and one of the supernatural beings that came to defend and protect the Buddha as he sat under the Bodhi Tree, so that his meditations would not be interrupted.
Below is another small temple that we didn’t enter. Through the window we can see the Buddha with an elephant kneeling before him. He is often depicted teaching an elephant and a monkey.
I don’t know the meaning of the scene below either. This, and the elephant and monkey, are things I’ll try to learn more about.
The temple next to the scene above tells of the time that three hundred monks arrived to be taught by the Buddha.
Notice the deer in the scene above.
When all of his work was complete, the Buddha lay down and passed from this life.
We didn’t take advantage of the hiking trails or camping, and didn’t see any of the waterfalls, or even much of the forests. That’ll be something to do next time.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 36 pictures below.
After sustaining a monkey bite one must of course seek out a fire and brimstonemonk to expel any malign spirits or influences. We left the paved roads for those of red dirt and drove deep into the countryside, passing many rice and sugar cane fields and rubber tree plantations along the way.
I’ve found the rubber tree forests especially interesting, having never seen one before Thailand. Those above have the sap collecting bowls tipped down. When collecting the bowls fill with a white liquid that seems to at least partly solidify before it is collected.
In the middle of all of this uninterrupted agriculture we arrived at a gate, currently under either repair or construction.
One monk lives at this temple. He has one of the most bizarre collections of religious accoutrements I’ve ever seen.
When he appeared he patted my belly and compared it to that of his enormous orange Buddha.
A 19th century Tibetan poet warned his fellow Buddhists that “if you enjoy frightening others, you will be reborn as a centipede.” I don’t really know of any connection with centipedes in Thai Buddhism. I have no idea why this Buddha has a giant centipede on his shoulder.
A cobra is coiled around the Buddha, apparently watching his back. Phaya Naga are sometimes portrayed as more common snakes.
This monk also has in his collection a large cobra with 9 heads.
He also has a Phaya Naga in a form with which I’m more familiar, giving a ride to a red humanoid that I haven’t identified.
The monkey bite victim and her mother changed into garments resembling baptism robes and sat in chairs at the edge of the temple, still just under the roof. The monk shouted the loudest I’ve heard from a monk and threw water on them. I’m not sure I would describe it as angry, but forceful would be fair. Later I was told that he was not speaking in Thai. It may have been Cambodian.
The monkey bite victim has had serious health problems for some time. I’m told that doctors know what it is, and she has been receiving treatment for some time. It seems that her mother has been seeking spiritual remedies to supplement the medicine.
Later the fire and brimstone monk produced dolls, similar to Ken and Barbi, and having gotten my attention, proceed to use them to act out the bumping of uglies. Apparently he was offering to bring his spiritual powers to bear on our sex lives. My little Tukata declined his offer.
The open roof behind the orange Buddha may be intended to let rain fall into an odd pool behind him. In this pool sit pink-skinned baby Phra Phikanets, or Ganeshas, on lotus flowers.
I’ve seen fish raised in pools like this.
I’ve seen creatures something like those below, but these seem to have the lower bodies of mermaids, so I’m not sure.
I had no idea that Buddhist temples like this existed. I was glad to see it for myself, and also that our visit was brief.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 14 pictures below.
Tham Phra Waterfall is a great way to spend a day in the heat of Thailand, and a great way to cool off after a visit to nearby Wat Phu Thok. Getting there requires a 15 minute boat ride along the Nam Ning brook.
Tham Phra is just one of the waterfalls in the Phu Wua wild life sanctuary about 40 kilometers from Bung Khong Long. It’s really a series of waterfalls, all flowing down over rock overlooked by sandstone cliffs and surrounded by thick green forest. Rock steps take you up to the first level, and you can continue upward from there to reach the highest level. The panorama below shows one of the lower levels nearly deserted as we made our way back to the boat at the end of the day.
This was when I realized that in Thailand, everything is a temple. Waterfall? Needs a Buddha! Wildlife Sanctuary? Needs Buddha! There was an actual temple at this spot, but it was moved so that visitors could better enjoy the water.
I think the falls below are at the highest level. This is where we stopped and finally got into the water. I’m told that in rainier times the whole rock face seen below flows with water.
There are quite a few natural slides like those shown in the pic below.
Below is a video of such a slide, shot in 2016. You’ll see many more videos of Tham Phra Waterfall on YouTube.
At about 5:00pm people came around to tell us it was time to leave. After thinking about it, it made sense; the people who run the boats need to shut it down and go home.
At the end of our boat ride back they had pictures of everyone framed and ready to sell. This is the most upset I’ve seen my Tukata, and she let them know directly, accusing them of stealing. No one bought a photo. I don’t have a good guess at when they took the pictures.
Tham Phra Waterfall is a natural waterpark in northeastern Thailand. It’s a great way to spend a hot day, but don’t go to late!
I’ll guess that the temple came first, and then the park-like surroundings. There’s plenty of space for a picnic, quiet time in the shade, feeding of fish, or a visit to one of the shrines among the many small lakes.
I wore hiking boots, but the walkways are very good, and walking shoes would have been better. Most visitors wore some form of sandal. I was still adjusting to the heat, but we took it slow, and soon I was feeling like myself for maybe the first time since arriving in Thailand.
I was confident in the structure of all stairs and platforms. The stairs can be very steep, so we made use of the hand rails, and occasionally walked sideways down sets of stairs with particularly shallow steps.
After climbing stairs through the rock (see the pic above) we arrived at the first significant flat, open area. It contained shady places to sit and rest, water faucets, and a small temple below a rocky overhang.
Here I saw the first of two cable conveyances for building and other supplies.
There are seven levels on Phu Thok which represent the seven levels of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhist philosophy.
If you look closely at the pic below you can see walkways at three different heights, each probably representing a different level.
This is very interesting use of the rock, and I’m sorry we didn’t see whether it leads somewhere other than the next level. We never visited any actual interior spaces.
The small roof along the rock at the top of the pic below causes water to drip down onto the walkway rather than flow along the rock to dampen the spaces below.
The same rocky overhang shelters a host of monk statues. A pair of visitors we met counted 58 and 59.
Another level up we encountered a small rocky peak that contains a small temple.
That wall is pretty thin.
Here we got our first good look at the back of the larger peak.
There are great views of the surrounding area, including another mesa nearby.
The walkway along the back of the mountain started out with rock underfoot…
…but soon became much more interesting.
The structure still inspired complete confidence, but there was just enough difference in board height to create the possibility of stumbling. Looking at where I was walking meant looking between planks at the ground below, which made things all the more exciting.
Along this walkway we found several wild bee hives. At the same spot there was a cave whose entrance was barely visible, but from within we heard the constant chirping of bats.
In my favorite of Phu Thok’s many spots for quiet meditation, a gold Buddha reflects on the sweeping panorama.
I’m not sure where we ascended to level six, but it was somewhere on the back of the mountain. Determined to leave no stone unturned, some of us climbed to level seven, the top of the mesa. There we found trails, rather than walkways. The going is still not precarious, but there are no railings.
We took a different way back to level six, and I realized that Wat Phu Thok is a bit of a maze.
It took a while to find our way back to the rest of the group.
My little Tukata’s youngest son frequently drives the local monks to temples in Udon Thani and surrounding districts, so he knows many of the most beautiful wats in northeastern Thailand. With Wat Phu Thok, might our guide have peaked early? Stay tuned!
Actually, he is good at taking us to a second destination after the highlight. This post ends here, but our day out did not – tune in in two days to see how our guide followed Wat Phu Thok.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 43 pictures below.
Pre-fabricated concrete buildings must be a relatively inexpensive option for creating an impressive temple. I’ve seen several, usually in poorer areas. Government buildings also seem to often be built this way.
The decorative features of this roof are among the coolest I’ve seen. They include a number of intertwined Phaya Naga, with 3-headed 2-bodied Phaya Naga at the top of each roof. People here pronounce that “pa ya na”, but I suspect that the pronunciation might vary.
Phaya Naga show up frequently in temples, with varying prominence. Very soon I’ll show you an island temple complex in a forest believed to be the border between the human world and the netherworld, and home of the Naga.
Although the walls are clearly unfinished, with rebar still sticking out, the shutters and doors are beautiful. I wonder if they were salvaged from an older temple.
There’s a white Buddha seated on a lotus flower nearby.
Spirit houses are also an important feature of temples in Thailand. They’re also found outside of businesses. Spirit houses are intended to provide a shelter for spirits that could cause problems for the people if not appeased. They’re often placed along an edge or corner of the property. There’s something different about this one; the fact that it appears alone, and away from the edges of the property, but my little Tukata tells me it’s just another spirit house. On the signs are the names of people who have passed away.
I was initially told not to photograph spirit houses, or really to take any notice of them. At first I hesitated, but I find them far too interesting to not take pictures. Like a true Buddhist, my little Tukata doesn’t try to change what she cannot control.
I like the spirit houses that look more like small houses or temples, like the one below, photographed at a different temple.
Pictured below is not a spirit house, I’m told, but a monument to a respected monk of the temple who passed away.
The second temple has much more typical Thai temple architecture, including a gate covered in Phaya Naga.
The temple looks to be another pre-fab concrete building, although this one is finished.
It has some nice Phaya Naga flanking the steps.
On the gable is a figure that I haven’t seen on any other Buddhist temple: Garuda, dancing with a pair of Phaya Naga.
The Bodhisattva was sitting in meditation on his throne under the Bodhi Tree, Mara, the Evil One, was jealous and wanted to stop him from reaching enlightenment. Accompanied by his warriors, wild animals and his daughters, he tried to drive the Bodhisattva from his throne. All the gods were terrified and ran away, leaving the Bodhisattva alone to face Mara’s challenge. The Bodhisattva stretched down his right hand and touched the earth, summoning her to be his witness. The earth deity in the form of a beautiful woman rose up from underneath the throne, and affirmed the Bodhisattva’s right to occupy the vajriisana. She twisted her long hair, and torrents of water collected there from the innumerable donative libations of the Buddha over the ages created a flood. The flood washed away Mara and his army, and the Bodhisattva was freed to reach enlightenment. — A Study of the History and Cult of the Buddhist Earth Deity in Mainland Southeast Asia
Phra Mae Thorani often appears at Thai temples, and in my experience is always shown wringing water from her long hair.
Across the paved path is a gold Buddha seated between two Phaya Naga, and a building in which I suspect communal worship might normally take place.
Next to the other gate to the temple complex is a whole village of spirit houses.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at these two temples.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 22 pictures below.
I haven’t yet traveled much in Asia, but from my first days in New Zealand I’ve enjoyed the large amount of authentic Asian culture in New Zealand. In 2016 I was lucky enough to experience Thailand in New Zealand.
The first Thai Buddhist temple I ever visited was Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland. Neither visit was during regular hours for services, so it was quiet and nearly empty.
I haven’t been to Thailand, but I enjoy the ways that New Zealand meets Thailand in the temples here. Watyarnprateep Temple was once a typical New Zealand farm house. Even more New Zealand are the caravans that serve as housing for some of the monks. Note the Buddhas on top of the caravan below.
The Thai style looks great in the New Zealand landscape.
On 13 October 2016 the King of Thailand died at 88 after a reign of 70 years, 126 days.
The lèse-majesté law makes it illegal to it criticize the king (or queen, heir-apparent, or regent). But many Thai people seem to have sincerely loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. There was an official mourning period of 30 days before the new king was crowned.
When I arrived most people seemed to be involved in making sure everyone was fed. Every Thai restaurant in the area seemed to be serving food to anyone who was hungry, and other people brought dishes to share.
We dressed in black, but everyone was happy, friendly, and very welcoming.
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery is located on a plot of former farmland among fields still being cultivated. In the picture below a monk walks along the driveway with young apple trees in the background.
Some of the monks live in buildings identical to cabins found at many New Zealand campgrounds.
The temple is in the living room of a former farmhouse.
People lined up with bowls of rice and spooned it into the bowls of the monks as they walked past.
There was a procession in honor of the deceased king.
The procession included a couple of different kinds of money tree.
Many mourners purchased gifts for the king in the form of clothes given in his name to the monks.
Like Watyarnprateep Temple in Auckland, Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery is fairly modest, but has some beautiful features.
On November 15 Thai people gathered in Aotea Square near the Auckland Town Hall, and said their final goodbyes to their king.
His son King Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted the throne on the night of 1 December 2016. His reputation is very different from that of his father, and the people of Thailand wait to see what the future will hold for their country.
Thai people and their culture are, for me, another interesting and welcome addition to the overall culture of New Zealand.
You can view the full gallery of 24 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.