Saturday, April 16, 2016

Wats going on

She  had a good air conditioner
Yesterday we rented a lovely, beat-up jeep to drive the circumference of the island of Koh Samui. Left side on the road driving; steering wheel and stick shift on the wrong side. The idea was to see the “really” nice beach area’s and sweeping vista’s from the islands mountains with the intention of remaining a few days extra here at a new location. The cool gulf breezes must be better than the city heat of Bangkok.

Local Fishing Boats near Nathon

The only plan is there is no plan and in the case of Koh Samui, the views (and beaches) have been purchased long ago with little or nothing left for the islanders or a couple of adventurous travelers to see except for restaurants, tee shirt shops and pharmacies along the main ring road, Hwy 4169. At least we discovered that in actuality, we choose the best and most deserted part of the island for our stay. I use the term deserted, loosely.

View from Snake Stone Temple

The only roadside attractions here are the Wats. The word "wat" means monastery and temple combined. There are about 21,000 wats in the whole of Thailand and are the most important institution in Thai rural life. The social life of the rural community revolves around the wat. Besides carrying out the obvious religious activities, a wat serves the community as a recreation center, dispensary, school, community center, home for the aged and destitute, social work and welfare agency, village clock, rest-house, news agency, and information center.

Choeng Mon Beach

Thus we drove, peaking at beaches where we could and visited all the wats.

Wat Khunaram is most notable for being the shrine of "the Mummy Monk", Luang Pho Daeng, who died in 1973 and directed that his body be put on display as a reminder of the transience of human existence. It is said, he foresaw his own death, however, it is unclear if he foresaw that he would be wearing sunglasses for all eternity. There is a large offering box of sunglasses at this very popular shrine.
The Mummy in Repose

Luang Pho Daeng

Wacha Thammaram Temple – Snake Stone Temple is notable that there is a “relic” of the Buddha here from Sri Lanka and the many Naga ornamentations located at this lovely beachside Temple. There were no Naga related items here to buy for my sweet Nagalita.

Offerings of flowers

Grand Staircase from the Buddha relic to the Ocean

Wat Plai Laem is a living and active temple, where worshippers come daily to pay respects to the 20-metre tall statue of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy and compassion, with her nine sets of arms, each representing a sector of Buddhism. Equally as impressive is the Laughing Buddha, which represents the Chinese-Thai beliefs. Constructed in 2004, it looks and feels like the older wats and is absolutely spectacular. The Disney of wats, it is so outrageous.
Notice the size of the people in front

Happy Buddha

Close up of mosaic tile work that covers all the shrines

 Wat Phra Yai - Big Buddha - As its name indicates, the wat is the home to a giant, 40 foot high gold-painted Buddha statue, built in 1972. I can see it from my window in the hotel. The Buddha statue depicts Buddha in a state of calm and purity and resolve, having overcome temptation and fear. The site is built on an old burial place for infants and children under 10. This Buddha welcomes all to the island of Koh Sumai as it is on the direct flight path of incoming and outgoing planes.

Big Buddha in the afternoon

Green Glass Naga

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