White Buddhist Temple – Blue Roof

A unique temple recently built in southern Thailand. This Buddhist temple is white with a blue roof. I’m not sure I’ve seen a temple with a blue roof before…

A Thai Buddhist temple (Theravada Buddhist) in the south of Thailand
A Thai Buddhist temple (Theravada Buddhist) in the south of Thailand

Photo tip – if you have a photo that is a little bit blurry when it’s large – no matter. Get xat.exe program (free), called JPeG optimizer. Shrink the image with that and sharpen by 20%. It really helps.

Is Buddhism not Important Anymore?

Buddhist monk boy with box turtleI visited a Buddhist temple the other day… It was incredible, very nice, traditional…

Then as I circled around to the back of the temple there was a small convenience store that had some tall girls looking out over the temple – and, it appeared… at me.

As I got closer I realized they were ladyboys, “katoey” boys dressed as girls. They were talking to me and telling me to come and buy something… and asking if they were “suay” – pretty. I was laughing at the absurdity of it all when one of them – then the other as well started giving me the tongue in the cheek and the fist up to the mouth routine.

What? They were going to give me oral sex in the store overlooking the Buddhist Temple?

I’m wondering if Thailand is in a steady decline as far as morals, and traditions go. When I got here a couple years ago I really loved the people… it was refreshing to see how they had respect for the elders and each other… and even for strangers. I was in the Isaan region and there is quite a bit MORE respect shown among people there than other places.

Pattaya? There is none. Bangkok – sometimes.

Now that I’ve been here a little while I am starting to find out that it used to be SO MUCH BETTER here… Friends have told me how it was 10, 20 years ago and it sounds like paradise…

At another temple I was at 2 weeks ago I saw a lot of boy monks under age 14 running around and playing games. One of them threw a box turtle about as big as my hand on the sand from a distance of about 2 feet. Another couple boys were lighting rockets from various places around the temple grounds. Other kids were playing chase. Others were banging on the drums, ringing the bells, talking on cell phones and eating candies.

I think it’s inevitable that Thailand becomes as bad as the USA is in terms of respect that we have for each other. It’s sad, and makes me wonder if there are other countries where people treat each other with more respect than Thailand. Anyone know any? I don’t.

In think that the ones with western abbots like Wat Pah Nanachat in Warin Chamrap close to Ubon Ratchathani and Suan Mokkh in Chaiya, near Surat Thani are run much more traditionally. Perhaps because they both get a LOT of visitors. The wats I usually visit are those that don’t have visitors, and they’re out of the way.

In general it seems that the older the monk population, the more traditionally it’s run. Is that right?

If the temple is full of 20 something monks I usually see lots of things that aren’t really traditional Buddhist practice going on.

What have you seen? Anything out of the ordinary – or different from what you expected to see at the temple?

Thailand Buddhist Holiday, “Makha Bucha” with Video

Thai Culture: Mahkha Bucha
Buddhist Holiday in Thailand

(Buddha gives Dharma talk to 1250 followers)

This was Makha Bucha Day in Thailand, a Buddhist holiday in Thai culture that we just got lucky enough to catch after we ate dinner.

It was Saturday evening and I was trying out the new Nokia e65 phone with 2mp camera and video and thought we should head by a temple since we saw a lot of people buying flowers and incense on the side of the road near the temples as we were looking for a restaurant to eat at.

I bought this phone so I could become more mobile with my blogging.  As it is I take photos and videos with two different cameras that create huge file sizes that I need to render into an appropriate format before uploading to this or my other blogs.  My hope is that this phone will enable me to take photos, take videos, and upload both to the blogs without having to turn on the computer. This was an experiment to see if that was possible.

After experimenting with the new camera during dinner I thought it would take decent videos at night with very little light too – so we went to the biggest temple that I know of in the area. It was about 8:30 pm maybe that this all started and we arrived at 8:25. Nice timing! There were maybe 1000 Buddhists there celebrating this special day.

Makha Bucha, as I understand it, is to commemorate the day that the Buddha gave his teaching to 1250 Buddhist disciples that spontaneously came to see him.  The Buddha gave all of these Buddhist men the oath to become monks.  On this day the Buddha gave them the teaching that he believed monks should follow. He told them how to go about being monks. What monks do. What they are. How they should act. What rules they should follow. He gave them Dharma talks.

The Thai-Buddhists that came to celebrate the holiday walk around the temple or stupas 3 times.  As they do so they focus on something for each lap around.

  • The first time around they focus on the Buddha.
  • The second time, they focus on the Dharma. Dharma is the "truth" about Buddhism conveyed through words, actions, or sometimes with a gesture or smile.
  • The third time they focus on all the people that took the vowels to be monks.

They also have 3 lighted incense sticks (symbolizing the trinity mentioned above) between their hands which are held in front of them resembling Christians praying.  There is a candle usually between the hands also, and it signifies something, but if my girlfriend doesn't get out of the shower before I post this – it will remain a mystery.

Ah, ok, I interrupted her 3rd shower today (and it's 1:02pm!). She said the candle is to represent "lighting the way" and as a symbol of the person's life.

In the videos I've posted links to at youtube you can see everyone walking around the temple, stupa and other important monuments at this temple.

Everyone was very nice to the out-of-place farang holding the video phone in their face. One little girl about 4 came up to me and tried to tell me in English what Makha Bucha day was and what it meant to the Thai Buddhists. I didn't film it as I thought it'd be rude. But, it was quite a cool experience.

When you come to Thailand you should feel free to go see any event that you find at a temple or in the streets. People have ALWAYS been over-accomodating towards me and I've gone to take a look at funerals, cremations, Chinese new years, and Chinese vegetarian festival (like lent)… and though it might have seemed that I was out of place nobody really ever made me feel that way. They just accept virtually anything here with the mai pen rai attitude… it's so cool!


Makha Bucha Buddhist Holiday Video 1 >   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEVqRD-Akwc
This is when we first arrived and I hadn't figured out what was happening and that this was the Buddhist holiday when everyone walked around the temple and stupa.  I was trying to find a place to get the best video.  If you look on the left a few seconds into the video you can see two foreigners standing with their incense lit and wondering what they are to do next also.  There is a guy that stops with his baby to say hi to the camera, from this point I know I'm welcome and no worries…

If this following link doesn't work then the one below will…  I'm testing the youtube embed video in my blog trick from email on my phone… see if this works…

<object width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value=" http://www.youtube.com/v/353sW6s7gto"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src=" http://www.youtube.com/v/353sW6s7gto" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"></embed></object>

Makha Bucha Video 2 >  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=353sW6s7gto
In this video you can see the group start to move. It's sort of chaotic and that's what's so cool about Thailand and Buddhism. Often times it isn't very regimented. There's no right and wrong for what you should be doing. Everyone just kind of follows along as a group. They've been doing this every year for many years and yet it's not formalized or standardized. THAT is cool.

I have another 14 mb video file download that I'll put up at my http://www.thaipulse.com site in the video section under Thai People or Thai Culture in the next few days.  But if you don't have a fast connection or a lot of time, don't try it! This is the best overall video showing the masses of people, old and young walkng around the temple with their incense sticks and focusing on the Buddhist trinity: Buddha; Dharma; Monks. There is also a shot of the monks walking around. As they passed a particularly old monk maybe 70 years old looked at me and smiled, you can see him in the lower part of the video as he moves to the left he's smiling and I'm smiling at him. 

Some of the Thai people put their incense and candle at the base of the bodhi tree and said prayers. A Bodhi tree is the type that the Buddha sat under when he became enlightened. They are held in high regard as a symbol of what the Buddha attained.

The monks, after walking around the temple 3 times kneel in formation. As I was taking a video of them I saw that one of the monks had a camera phone dangling from his left wrist. He was pointing it at me and taking a picture of me!  At least that's what it looked like.

Ok, so that's all I have for it – go explore the temples if you see a lot of people, you'll be welcome, especially during the Thai Buddhist Holiday, "Makha Bucha day 2008" in Thailand…

Mummy Monk in Ko Samui… a Fraud?

Mummy monk (mummified monk) Ko Samui
I went to Ko Samui this weekend to get some photos of things I didn’t get good enough photos of the last 9 times we were there, AND to get some new photos.

We left about 7:45 am on the motorbike headed for Don Sak pier where we jump on the Seatran ferry – motorbike and all. Total cost for the ferry and two of us: 250 baht. We see 4 of my co-workers from school – they’re headed to Ko Samui to do their power-factor workout (I call it). This consists of holding a HELLUVALOTTA weight motionless for 10 seconds – or something bizarre like that. On bench press they are doing like 190kg. That’s 400 some pounds! They’ve been doing this workout for months now and I see no difference in them at all.

If I worked out for 3 months my tone, size and everything would come back quickly and I’d LOOK like I just worked out for 3 months. Anyway, I’m not buying into this workout until I see some RESULTS! They work out once every 10 days. Come on… can this be for real? I’d laugh at them in the gym! But, they say there is real science behind it so what do I know?

It rained on us almost as we arrived at Don Sak. We decided not to pussout because my friends were all there and they’re going no matter what. Of course they are not on motorbike. They take a Sam Lor (pickup) or tuk-tuk around Samui.

So we go… it’s beautiful weather – not hot. Not sunny. Not cold. Not windy. Not raining. The whole day was nice. The ferry had about 50 kids from Had Yai that were very interested in what I was doing, saying, eating… but that’s to be expected considering they probably have NO foreigners in the south dumb enough to be teaching there right now. Nah, there’s SOME – there’s always someone dumb enough – you notice that? If there’s something you think that NOBODY must be doing – someone IS doing it.

So we arrive and it’s sunny! We immediately start shooting photos. I’m a photo nut. I was a paparazzi photographer in New York City for a couple years and when I get the bug – I have to shoot, shoot, shoot.

We ran around the island, ate som-tam at a beach side stand that put exactly NO chili peppers in mine. That sucked. What good is som tam without the peppers? I was pissed the rest of the day!

So, we spend some time exploring forbidden places – literally – we pulled through an open gate at this resort and explored the back of it for over an hour – there was NOBODY there – and when we came back up through the gate we were griped out a bit in Thai – but I just said “Mai Pen Rai Kup” a few times and drove by.

Eventually my g/f says – it’s 4:15… aren’t we going back to Surat today on the ferry? I said WOW. I completely lost track of time. We hardly did anything to lose that much time.

So – we bust can to get back. We were at the furthest point possible (Big Buddha) from the ferry and traffic was nuts so I went as fast as feasible…

Then she says – aren’t we gonna go to see the mummy monk?

Damn. Yes, we were gonna see it. Ok, we’ll go. I stopped at what I thought was mummy monk’s temple and parked. She says – this isn’t it. Fark! She was right.

We kept going and found it. I took some pics, intent on getting a better pic than I had 3 other times I took pics because people were there and I was afraid to offend someone by putting my camera right up to the glass and snapping away.

Today – nobody there. I got as close as the altar would let me and snapped some. This is the best one I have. Now, something on his nose appears to be WHITE. I looked at this in person -and to me it looks like rubber or some plaster or something.

Mummy monk (mummified monk) Ko Samui, a close upIs mummy monk a fraud? They say he’s been there since like 1973. Is he really a silicon rubber replica of the real mummy monk?

Not sure, but it’s now open for discussion. I don’t know whether it’s Jing Jing or not. He sure looks real otherwise, but so did the alien autopsy.

Could someone sit there for that long and not fall apart? Wouldn’t the hair fall out of his head at least? It’s still there! I’ll do a close up and fix the jpg artifacts on this white spot and see if it makes it any clearer.

Please offer any insights you may have…