Sweet, quiet moments
Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
54Trip End Jun 15, 2007
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Free to explore with rented bikes, we awoke at 5am and rode beyond the city walls then climbed a hill to an ancient wat (Wat Sa Phan Hin) to see the sun rise over the misty city below. The large standing Buddha, posed in the fear subduing mudra, glowed softly in the early morning light as roosters crowed in the distance, and the plunking mellow tones of a traditional wooden xylophone, tuned to an unfamiliar scale, carried through the warm air.
Later we take photos of bright pink water lilies reflecting on the surface of the pond next to Wat Mahathat, the Royal Temple. The wat is quiet still, free from the crowd of tourists that will arrive later, and the magnitude of what I'm seeing settles in - the hundreds of thousands of hand-laid bricks and stones, the beautiful Buddha statues, the unbelievable devotion that went into the creation of this place.
Yesterday, we explored more of the nearby wats by bike. When we arrive at Wat Si Chum, I am overcome with awe. Inside a stone roofless building sits a gargantuan Buddha towering over our heads, his calm gaze looking down on us. I find myself remembering the peace of seminary, the beauty I saw in each of the people there, and I can feel my heart beating softly in my chest. Our Canadian friend, Pascal, comments that you "can really feel the vibration of something here". I quietly agree. When I walk around the outside of the building, I can hardly believe a place like this exists. An old monk in orange robes sits and chats in Thai with four people clustered around him, and I'm struck by the living quality of Buddhism here. At wats in every city, a constant flow of people from morning until night makes offerings of incense, candles, and money, and monks are a common sight.
In the afternoon, I enjoy the smooth citrusy sweetness of a mango pineapple shake, feel the warm moist evening air on my skin as I push through it on my bike. Savoring each moment, a little sad to see them fleeting from one to another, but happy, too.