This Wat (Thai for temple) is probably my favorite that we visited. There was a small temple in the front which held the city pillar (a pillar which is believed to house the god who protects the area), a large, ornate gold temple off to the right, and behind it, the ruins of an even larger one.
Before I get into the details of the temples, one thing to note: Thailand takes Buddhism pretty seriously. You will not be allowed onto the grounds and definitely not inside the temples if you are showing too much skin. Luckily, outside most of the popular temples, people will be selling shawls and stuff to cover up; the temple itself might also let you rent something as well. Take caution!
The city pillar temple was much more modest on the outside than some of the temples I’ve seen. Interesting thing about this one: women were not allowed in. There was a giant sign in English stating that fact and explaining why. Basically, women are impure because we have periods once a month. Woot woot. Doesn’t really make sense to me, but it’s not my culture. Japan has places like that, too, such as the ring that sumo wrestlers fight in. There was a big fuss a few months back about this. A politician was giving a speech in the ring and suddenly collapsed, so a few female doctors ran into the ring to help him. When they did, a referee yelled at them to leave, even though they had no idea what kind of state the politician was in. They later received an apology.
Moving back to the temples: the gold one housed a Buddha statue, as well as small gold statues lining the walls. These were for days of the week and the zodiac, and you could buy a small piece of gold foil to place on the statue.
The larger one was completed in the mid-1400s, and was the tallest building in the area. However, the building today is much shorter than in the past, as an earthquake in the 1500s caused the top 30m to fall off.
You can’t climb the stairs on the temple, but you are allowed to walk all around the base.
There was also a small temple behind these ruins that had a wax statue of the recently deceased abbot of these temples. It scared me when I went in because I couldn’t tell that it was a statue! I thought there was a monk in a glass case for a second… Apparently this is something often done in Thailand; very important and revered monks can have their remains mummified and put on display or have wax figures made of them so that even when they’re dead, they will provide a place for their followers to make a pilgrimage to and encourage them to continue striving towards enlightenment.
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