Many people can count the amount of gold they own, well, on one finger. Add in earrings, necklaces, and a few bracelets, then maybe you’re up to a couple of ounces. But imagine that you’re doing a bit of reorganizing around the house and discover 5 tons of gold sitting in your storage room.
Sound unlikely? Well maybe so, but this is exactly what happened in the case of the now-famous Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit in Bangkok.
How can an entire Wat-full of monks not know that over $200 million in gold is squirreled away in their storage room? The details are sketchy, but it seems to go something like this: At some point in the past, possibly the 18th Century, in order to prevent the priceless Buddha statue from being stolen by an invading army, it was completely plastered over, painted, and inlaid with pieces of colored glass.
The strategy worked – perhaps too well. Because it wasn’t until 1957, when the old stucco statue was being moved from a storeroom, that a crane operator accidentally dropped it, chipped off a piece of plaster, and exposed the lustrous gold underneath. This lucky incident probably had less to do with the crane operator’s karma than it did with the fact that he was lifting 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilos) of gold instead of a chunk of carved plaster.
Either way, it was certainly a fortuitous incident and Wat Traimit’s Buddhist monks won the lotto that day.
Wat Traimit isn’t the largest or most ornate temple in Bangkok, but if you visit the city, make sure to wander over toward Chinatown, and don’t miss the Golden Buddha.
James & Terri