April 04, 2010

010107 Wat Phra Singh

Along Suksathit Rd on the way to Wat Phra Singh - this road on the eastern edge of the municipal market is a good place to buy dinner in the late afternoon/early evening:

Photo by The Other HY

With time to spare before meeting up with the Chiangrai friends, the cat decided to try & see if it could hunt down Monk X, the village mate & cousin of a bunch of its new Lao friends. All his village mates knew was his nickname(*) - shared by tens if not hundreds of thousands of other Lao & Thai guys - & that someone had taken him away from their village 7-8 years ago to stay at Wat Phra Something in Chiangrai city. This city has a couple of Wat Phra Somethings (Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Phra Norn, Wat Phrathat Doi Khao Khwaai, etc)...well let's just hit the first two since both are within walking distance of Rote Yiam beef noodle...

First attempt - วัดพระสิงห์ Wat Phra Singh:


While the rest explored the temple, the cat approached the first monk it saw...Does this temple have any Lao monks in residence?...Yes there are two! & I am one of them! The other one is from Bokeo but I'm from Y province...Are you from Ban Z?...How do you know my village?!...Is your name X?...Yes!! & you are??

Photo by The Other HY

That was a rather short & easy hunt :) After viewing photos of 3-day-old monk, Monk TYF, etc on the cat's camera & talking about the usual stuff (updates from them about them + village Z), Monk X (having cleared his level 3 Pali exams he is technically Phra Maha X) showed us his English workbook - he was sitting outside his kuti tackling some self-assigned English 'homework' just as we arrived. In his first year at the same university that the Chiangrai Akha & Lahu friends attend, he was majoring in the only major that monks are allowed to major in at that university - Social Development - & English was something he could pursue only in his free time. This he did by buying the course workbook used by freshmen English majors from the CRU bookstore & trying to complete the exercises by himself, & then getting help from short-term expats & tourists to check his work...initiative & enthusiasm rather atypical of students in Thailand when it comes to learning English (as many teachers of English in Thailand can attest to), but well he's Lao...

There is something about this temple & rabbits:


More rabbits on either side of the beautiful entrance arch:

Photo from Jan 2010 return visit

ปางนาคปรก bpang naak bprok - under the bprok (cover) of the naak (naga), the bpang (posture) for the Buddha image representing Saturday:


Many temples have a collection of 8 of these statues (there are 2 'bpang' - one for AM & one for PM - for Wednesday), often surrounding a bodhi tree.

Phra Maha X took us into the viharn for a look, & gave us a big fat bag of apples as a gift. Under the cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis) at the back of the viharn:


Thai & Lao Buddhists refer to it as the 'sala' tree & believe (mistakenly?) that Buddha died under this species of tree. Come think of it, 'salah' is the Malay (& Singlish) word for 'wrong' or 'mistaken' :P In these two countries cannonball trees are found mostly (if not only) on the grounds of Buddhist temples, whereas in Singapore it's grown everywhere e.g. along Tanglin Road (outside the British High Commission) & Portsdown Road.

(*) Formal first names were used & surnames invented on the spot only when they had to deal with official paperwork, which didn't happen that often in villages that didn't have much paper or many who knew how to write/spell. The cat itself doesn't know the formal names of most of its relatives either, everyone goes by their Hokkien/Teochew 'title' e.g. dtua gu 大舅 (mother's eldest brother) or dji mm 二姆 (wife of father's second older brother). Neither do they know the cat's actual name - it's simply referred to as [insert either parent's title] 个大查某囝 gai dtua tza boh kia (= 的大女儿 in Mandarin aka. eldest daughter) or [nickname].

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