Saturday, July 9, 2016

Protected by Dragons – Erich

This morning we went to Doi Suthep. Technically we went to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Doi Suthep is a mountain and a national park in Thailand, just to the west of Chiang Mai. But on the mountain is a big and very important Buddhist Temple. "Wat" means Buddhist Temple in Thai. So the real name of the temple is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, but everyone here just refers to the temple itself as Doi Suthep.

It's quite an amazing place. You climb this set of steps, probably close to two hundred of them. And on either side, instead of a traditional railing, you are protected by two long serpentine dragons. At the bottom of the stairs you have the dragon's heads, and out of their mouths come another dragon with five heads. (On each side of the staircase.) At the top, you have the ends of their tails.
Thai people can visit the Wat for free. Foreigners have to pay 30 Baht each (which is about 90 cents.)
The temple is impressive. There are Buddha statues all around. Some of them are gold, or probably gold leaf, and some of them are stone. We saw two that were green and possibly jade. I'm not sure. I know if you touch jade it will feel cold, but you are not allowed to touch the statues.
In the center there is a gigantic Chedi, which is a tower that is wide at the base and tapers as it goes higher. The entire thing was golden colored. And then there are side temples with more statues of Buddha and of various monks. People were praying in these. In one, a monk was available to pray with people. There were people walking the perimeter of the Chedi holding flowers and praying. There were people praying at a variety of the Buddha statues.
They leave donations in boxes or sometimes on the foot of a Buddha in the lotus position, or sometimes in the open hand of a Buddha.

The buildings have intricate roofs with colorful shingles and at the eaves, there are decorations, usually more serpentine dragons.
Back down at the street level there are many many shops where people sell cooked food or fruit or smoothies. And the prices are basically the same as the street vendors in the city, which is nice. In the States, at a site the vendors always cost more than they do in town.

I suspect the Thai wouldn't dream of increasing prices at a site like this one. After all, it's protected by dragons.

No comments:

Post a Comment