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Published: November 9th 2017
Today was destined to be a long day, longer for some than for others, let me explain. There is a tradition that early in the morning locals would go to the local temple and give alms to the Monks. One could give money or food or whatever. It was the only way the Monks get something to eat. So if you wanted to do this you had to get up at 5:30. If you did this, you would receive good luck and a blessing from the Monks. Sorry but no thanks. About 6 brave souls did go.
Barb, came back and told me a very interesting story. At first, she really wanted to go, but she was tired the night before and she decided to skip it. While she was sleeping she heard or felt something move her. She was "told" "tell the monk to be strong." Well, she decided to go, how could she disobey the spirit world.
So she goes and there is a lonely Monk begging for food. She walks up to him, gives her offering and says "be strong" and he smiled from ear to ear. You gotta feel good about
Once we all got back together it was time for another sumptuous breakfast. A few thousand calories, later we boarded the bus for our departure to the nation's first Buddhist Temple, called the Wat Dol Suthep.
Now legend has it this temple is at least 700 years old and was founded in a most peculiar way. A friend of the king was searching for relics of Siddhartha, The Buddha himself in Nepal. He came across some bones under the tree where the Buddhist was said to have died. To praise and honor Buddha, he asked his friend the king to loan him one of the kingdoms white elephants so he could bring the relics back to Siam. The king agreed and so the relics were put in an urn and sat atop the White Elephant for the journey to Siam.
Once the relics arrived, the problem was what to do with them. So, they let the elephant decide. They turned him loose and where ever the elephant would lay down, there, they would build the temple. The elephant traveled for days and went up into the mountains of Northern Siam
and there he came to a place where he circled the hilltop three times, lay down and died. Here they built the temple and erected a monument to the white elephant.
Just to be clear, White Elephant is a misnomer, it is not exactly white. The Indian elephant is basically dark brown to black. Some elephants have what appears to be flesh colored or pink markings on the feet or head or trunk. If the elephant has these markings on 9 specific locations on his body, he is a white elephant. White elephants are sacred and are property of the king. He is venerated and is given special royal guard they provide his every need, even today.
When we arrive at the temple, we are given a choice. Climb the more than 300 steps to the top or take a tram. It was early, I was rested and the weather was cool so I opted for the steps. Only John from Florida was brave enough to join. He was also a fireman, so if I crapped out I knew he could carry me! So up went step after step to the top. By the
way, there are only 278!
The temple was amazing, White elephant statue depicting Lord Buddha's journey, Naga statues, mythical serpent of the Hindu religion protecting the relics. At the top is the golden stupa where many of the faithful's ashes are entoumbed. Once we were done here, I took the steps back down to the bottom, where there was time to shop and explore.
Next we went to the Paper Making Factory, where we learned the art of paper umbrella making. The process has not changed for 1000 years and is all done by hand. It is grueling work and the workers make only $10 a day.
We next headed to the Jade factory where we would see how Jade was made from rocks into fine jewelry. I had seen this demonstration before, so I headed right to the shopping floor, searching for the perfect gift. After many attempts and negotiations some one at home is getting a beautiful pair of blood ruby earnings!
From here we went to the silk factory, where fine garments, scarves and hand made fit to your body suits and tuxedos. They were
beautiful and not expensive. A hand fitted tailored suit was only $435 and was ready in 24 hours.
Our final trip for the day was the optional Tuk Tuk ride, night market and traditional Khantoke dinner and entertainment.
Now a Tuk Tuk is a small motor cycle/trailer vehicle. The driver sits astride the motor cycle and the passenger, usually 2, sits in the back on a very uncomfortable bench with open air canopy and no seat belts. The vehicle gets its name from the sound the tiny engine makes as it winds through the city. Since we were 10 people we had a number of Tuk Tuks. Each belched exhaust into the vehicle being them. By the time the 30 minute ride was over I was nearly asphyiated.
We arrived at the night market, a flea market in reality. We were turned loose for an hour and I walked up and down the aisles, collecting some memorabilia and gifts for the folks back home. Our hour was soon up, and we headed off to a traditional dinner.
Now , I know we're we in Thailand, but the dinner
venue seems a combination of Thai and Japanese. We first had to take off our shoes, some of the crew balked at this and when they did not, they were ushered off the floor and they reluctantly complied.
Our tables were very close to the floor and you sat down by squeezing your feet under the table, into a pit, where it was next to impossible to get in let lone out! There was at least a cushion to keep your but off the wood floor.
Food was served family style and it was a wide variety of Thai favorites. This was accompanied by traditional songs and dance numbers by the Troup of entertainers. All in all a fun time.
It was finally time to try to get out from under the table and back to the eh bus for the short ride home. I was exhausted and looking forward to a good night's sleep. I was denied.
My room mate Ricky caught a cold and he hacked and snorted all night keeping both he and I up. I was in worse shape in the morning than the night before. Tomorrow he was getting cough medicine or I was going to smother him!
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