The day started in earnest when we emerged into the hot, humid, noisy world outside the Bangkok Metro. We were on our way to Wat Pho, home of the famous reclining Buddha, measuring an astounding 150 feet long and 50 feet high.
Leaving the Metro – a quiet, underground, air-conditioned environment – and surfacing in Chinatown takes a quick adjustment. As seasoned travelers, our “scam radar” is always on, and suddenly it went ping-ping-ping. A nice, normal-looking man (with a briefcase) started a conversation about where we were going, etc. He claimed to be a subway engineer, and his explanation for using the tuk-tuk idling nearby was that the King and his family just happened to be visiting Wat Pho, so we might want to consider his alternate suggestions for visits. We didn’t fall for it … but he got points for style and originality.
Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest wats (Buddhist Temples) in Bangkok, and in addition to the reclining Buddha, it’s home to more than 1,000 Buddha images. It’s a colorful, glimmering fantasyland of Thai Buddhist art and architecture.
Contrary to what many people think, Buddha is not a God, but a respected teacher. Buddhism is complex, and the symbolism of the Buddha’s position is important. Statues may show the Buddha seated, standing, or in a reclining position. A reclining Buddha may mean death and reaching Nirvana.
A Buddha in a sitting position means enlightenment.
And a standing Buddha gives blessings with his hands.
As we’ve said before, Buddhist Temples are an assault on the senses. This one was also serious eye-candy.