Thursday, July 7, 2016

Not Yet Abbott and Costello – Erich

Syarra and I were working on a comedy routine that went something like this.

Erich: Where did you go today?
Syarra: Wat.
Erich: Where did you go today?
Syarra: Wat.
Erich: I said, “Where did you go today?”

And so on. I know, it still need a lot of work. But the joke is in the word Wat, which is the Thai word for a Buddhist Temple.

We visited the Wat Umong, which means the Temple of Caves. The temple was built several hundred years ago, and then at some point after that, a series of underground tunnels were built. Inside these tunnels there are many niches of about 8 inches in height and a depth of 6 inches or so. In these are tiny statues of Buddha or various Hindu gods and goddesses. But there are also places where the tunnels come to dead end alcoves about six feet wide and ten feet deep. Here, there are large Buddhas. In front of each is a mat on which one can kneel to pray. And there are often other decorations along with it.

Outsiders and tourists are welcome to visit Wats in Thailand, but you must wear pants or skirts. No shorts allowed. And when you get to certain parts, you have to take off your shoes. We were exploring the tunnels barefoot (or you can be in your socks if you prefer.)

Also at the Wat Umong, we saw many monks walking about, including an elderly man who nodded kindly to us and then took out his cell phone and made a call.

There is a gigantic Stupa or Chedi, which is a structure shaped somewhat like a giant teardrop, but with a much longer and higher top. You don't go inside the Stupa, but you can walk all the way around it.
Throughout the complex, there are little wooden plaques tied to trees with proverbs on them. Most of the sayings were in Thai, so I can't tell you what they said. But some were in English. One example is “Today is better than two tomorrows.”

There was also a variety of statuary about the place. One was the Black Starving Buddha. The detailed veins and the thinness of his limbs were impressive. Or disturbing. But that was probably the point.
The whole area is on the western edge of the city of Chiang Mai, though when it was built, it was out in the western forest, well outside of the city. Today, one can walk there, though as you near the place, the streets get narrow and windy.

Still, across the street from the main entrance, you can buy ice cream. So it is definitely no longer a lost in the forest temple.

Ice cream at the Wat?

Ice cream at the temple.

I know, the sketch still needs work.

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