Saturday, June 01, 2013

Travelogue: Aren't we lucky?

While buying the entrance ticket for Wat Pho, we saw an amusing notice board that read something like this, “Beware of pick pocketers - they are non-Thai nationals”! 

Along with the entrance ticket we were entitled to a free 300 ml water bottle - it was timely for us because we were exhausted in the heat and we were happy with every single drop that we got. 
Inside the main hall, was the huge structure of the Buddha in a reclining posture (thus the name ‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’) - 160 feet in length! The sight of massive structures tends to calm the mind - maybe because you reflect on how small you are in this huge universe. The feet of the Buddha has 108 symbols inlaid with a material called mother-of-pearl. We followed the crowd, picked a cup filled with coins from a table and dropped one coin in each of the 108 bowls that were lined up beside the Buddha. 

Most people tend to leave after seeing this hall with the reclining Buddha but this temple has a lot more areas behind the main hall. In some places we saw old anatomy type drawings; we didn’t know what it meant but after looking online we learnt that this place was originally used for traditional Thai medicine and many of the diagrams are still being researched. Our veggie friend was struggling with his sprained foot which happened before our journey began; the pain and swelling increased and he was forced to sit out at this point.

A few of the temple corridors had a row of small 50 or so Buddha structures sitting in a row. As our photographer and I trudged along we came across a building that was setup similar to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. And the sight within was just as spectacular with a golden color in the room. I don’t think the picture we took does justice to the real sight.

After this point our photographer friend also semi-retired; one by one we were going down - one with fever, one with sprain, one tired with the steps! To get to the main hall of each of these buildings you had to climb a few steps - it was really tough to go up and down the steps so many times. 

Some of the halls didn’t have the golden tinge but just had a huge structure of the Buddha in a particular pose - lying down, standing, sitting under the Bodhi tree etc. Most of these rooms were empty since tourists hardly walked up to this point.

When you stand in an empty room with a large Buddha in front of you, there is that feeling of calmness and humbleness that automatically sets in; a feeling of awe. And that pushed me to visit as many of the halls as I could!

It feels apt to end this edition with a quote from the book ‘The Black Swan’; the author says that we are extremely lucky to be born and that we should be thankful for it. 

“I am sometimes taken aback by how people can have a miserable day or get angry because they feel cheated by a bad meal, cold coffee, a social rebuff, or a rude reception… We are quick to forget that just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck, a remote event, a chance occurrence of monstrous proportions.” - Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

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