Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Golden Triangle

The strange thing about these sculpted hands and skulls reaching up out of a pit where bad folk go, is that someone has painted a single fingernail red.
Where do bad folks go when they die?  
They don't go to heaven where the angels fly  
They go to a lake of fire and fry  
Won't see 'em again till the 4th of July

There's an Opium Museum up on the the Thai/Laos/Burma border. It's mostly about the British squaring up their balance of trade with opium balls. It's a fine museum, but leave three or four hours to visit and take it all in. There are movies about the CIA and all kinds of Golden Triangle history things that you might find interesting.

The visit starts with a walk up a dimly lit long tunnel with eerie music and tortured human images carved into the tunnel walls.

There is no order to the pictures here today. Just another weird day in the Golden Triangle. Cooking eggs in boiling hot springs for breakfast, talking to bald-headed monks, seeing surrealistic strange structures, eating the local food....

The inside of this temple had a lot of white strings in it which created an interesting visual view of the Buddha. Visual view is not as redundant as it sounds. Consider spiritual view, overview or other views...

This old, bald  monk is building a new place for the young monks to sleep and cook. It's all open air. The weather does not require heaters for the most part.

This is an adjunct structure going up near an old temple along a remote river off the beaten path. . It's sort of a boat-like temple thingy.

Our driver, Ken on the temple boat..

Carol and Bennett draw a stick in the temple which gives number that leads to a written fortune. Their fortune  says that the new baby is not expected anytime soon.

Ken tells me that the people who use the temple make these things and people vote for the most beautiful by placing money in them. The money is used for maintenance and additions...

The old temple next to the new boat structure on the river.

We are the only customers in this open air restaurant. The food is good and very spicy. Fortunately both Bennett and Ken are fluent in Thai.

Down the road, This ultra modern temple has some odd images, including all the hands coming out of the pit. Maybe they are drawing on Christian images. Maybe we were once visited by really ugly aliens? Interesting use of Spanish Moss?

The temples vary greatly in design. This one is fairly new. It was built by a really wealthy businessman. As far as Bennett knows, it was built to make merit. He doesn't accept large gifts, support monks or do good works. We think we see him sitting by the temple entrance...

The Red Rose Hotel in Chaing Rai is built around a Disneyland motif. It is intended for only short-term occupancy.We drive all around at night to look for it because Ken and Bennett think we will find it interesting. We went into one very humid room that had some kind of bugs that bit Mrs. Phred. I wonder what Walt Disney would think?

This is the little mermaid room.

I think this room is the little engine that could.

Behind Carol is Burma. Behind Bennett is Laos. They are standing in Thailand. The three countries are divided by the Mekong and the smaller river that joins it from between them to the left.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Chiang Mai, Thailand

We got up at 5Am on our 3rd day in Thailand for the 400 mile flight to Chaing Mai. The highlight of the day is snakehead soup and a snakehead fish dish that is super spicy.

Bennett and Ken spend the day taking us to mountain temples. There are as many temples in Chiang Mai as there are in Bangkok.

This remote mountain temple only had one monk. We had a conversation in English.

The Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple is at 3,500 feet in the mountains overlooking Chiang Mai.

The temple is very famous and draws lots of tourists like us.

The temple was built in this site after a white elephant trumpeted three times and died on the spot in 1368 A.D.

Chiang Mai from the temple overlook.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Reclining Buddha and the Grand Palace

Rattanakosin Island
Bangkok, Thailand

The old city (Rattanakosin Island) has both the Wat Po Temple complex and, right next door, the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We spend our last afternoon in Bangkok wandering though these fantastic structures.

The Wat Po Temple is also Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Its official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan. A major feature of the temple is the figure of the reclining Buddha, which is 50 feet tall and 135 feet long.

The temple is the home of the Thai massage. There are many different Buddha forms. We see the one below frequently. I think of him as the Snakehead Buddha.

If you forget to take off your shoes in the temples, there is usually a monk to yell at you. After the first day I ditch my lace up tennis shoes and wear the slip on loafers.

Mrs. Phred in the Wat Po Temple complex. There are 80,000 square meters of buildings, Buddhas and statuary in this huge complex.

Rows of Buddhas are fairly common features of the larger and more opulent temples.

You see these structures often at temples. I think they are possibly called "stupas". According to Wiki, building a stupa is considered extremely beneficial, leaving very positive karmic imprints in the mind. Future benefits from this action will result in fortunate rebirths. Fortunate worldly benefits will be the result, such as being born into a rich family, having a beautiful body, a nice voice, and being attractive and bringing joy to others and having a long and happy life, in which one's wishes are fulfilled quickly. On the absolute level, one will also be able to reach enlightenment, the goal of Buddhism, quickly.

On the other hand, cousin Bennett called these structures (or something similar) "Chedis" and said that they were cosmic energy accumulators....or holy object reliquaries. Take your pick...

Eventually, we move on to the Grand Palace.

I think this is the King's Palace. He doesn't live here, but shows up sometimes for ceremonial occasions.