April 22, 2007

Wat on earth is that?

On its flights between Bangkok & Chiangrai, the cat will notice this big fat flat expanse of concrete standing out from the surrounding narrow rectangular strips of rice fields in Pathum Thani province, not very far north of Bangkok. In fact, the cat treats it as a landmark that indicates that the plane is nearing Don Muang Airport, & associates it with the 'popping out' of the aircraft wheels in preparation for landing.

How it looks like on Wikimapia

Cat's photo of the middle section from its December 2004 CEI-BKK flight:

click here for larger version

At first sight, the above section somehow reminded the cat of the 'kaba' in Mecca, where hundreds of thousands of devout Muslims circle a cube-like building during the annual Haj pilgrimage...because of the similar 'layout' - a central focal point, & a huge surrounding space that can fit many many worshippers.

But the cat thought it might be yet another of those huge parks built to commemorate some birthday of either HM the King or HM the Queen of Thailand, because the central structure kinda resembled a fountain from the plane window. & then it saw the big fat grey shelter-like structure immediately south of the 'fountain' section, & thought it was some aircraft hangar type of facility, since the plane was so close to Don Muang.

YK's photo of the entire complex from our December 2005 BKK-CEI flight:

click here for larger version

More than 2 years later the cat has discovered that it is the controversial Wat Phra Dhammakaya that it has read about quite a number of times in the Thai news, most recently making the headlines for coming out in support of Thaksin just before the 2006 coup...

What the cat thought was a 'fountain' turned out to be this, the huge space the meditation amphitheatre with 'more than 10,000 toilets' & space for a million devotees, & the 'aircraft hangar' turned out to be a double-storey assembly hall with capacity for up to 300,000 (humans, not planes)...mind boggling in a way that somehow unnerves the cat, & sounding somewhat like an antithesis of Wat Suan Mokkh in the past & the Santi Asoke movement?

The cat wonders where on earth is Buddhism in Thailand heading towards, if anywhere...?

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