Daily Archives: April 28, 2005

Longest Reclining Buddha

Many guidebooks say that the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok is the longest in Thailand. Even though it is 46 metres long, it isn’t the longest. Others claim that the Reclining Buddha at Wat Khun Inthra Pramun in Ang Thong is the longest at 50 metres. They are also wrong. I can understand why they are mistaken. I have visited both of these temples and these Buddha images are gigantic.

The longest Reclining Buddha in Thailand is in fact here in my home province of Samut Prakan at Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang! Not many people know that. In fact, probably not many people have seen it. I took my visitors there today and they were completely bowled over by its size. It is not only 53 metres long, but it is also as tall as a four storey building! On top of that, you can also go inside. Pretty amazing. But, I think the neatest thing was the shrine for the Buddha’s heart. I have heard about this kind of thing before. Sometimes they put a heart through a hole in the back of a Buddha image and then fill it in with cement. But, this one was huge and also had veins!

I suppose my only disappointment was that you couldn’t take a picture like the one at the top which I had to scan. It looks like when the Reclining Buddha was originally built, there was no building surrounding it. Now they have built a temple around it which makes it difficult to take a picture of the whole image – as you can tell from my photo above. But, nevertheless, it is still impressive.

You can see some more photos and comments I wrote at my other web site at http://www.thaibuddhist.com. If you explore that web site carefully, you will come across a Buddha image which has six toes!

One year of real life: reflections

Thinking back

An anniversary
Last week it’s been exactly one year that I left the United States for the Land of Smiles. Looking back at the circumstances of then and now, lots of things changed since Richard and Game picked this greenhorn up from the Bangkok airport at midnight. I think I can safely say that this one year in Thailand has been more dynamic than the previous five years living the stale, relatively secluded life of an international university student.

From a financial standpoint, the year was a complete disaster. Not even my highest earnings here came even close to the comfy, 60,000Bt/mo salary I enjoyed as a researcher/teacher in the US. It took quite a lot of time (and quite a lot of my savings) to get used to living by local standards on local wages.

From a career standpoint, it appears at the moment that it was a downward move also. No surprises on either accounts. But I wouldn’t be the person I am if the above two factors would be the only things leading my life. I pity such people sometimes. Their boring 9-5 jobs, seeing the same people, the same places every day; living a life where genuine smiles, genuine happiness are as frequent as a white raven, not to mention real love. Their ineptitude makes them chained to a never-ending threadmill; they are permanently stuck doing the same, set routine over and over until retirement. The highlight of their lives must be when they are finally able to pay off their 30-year mortgage.

These five years in America taught me the lesson that most of these people figure out only when it’s too late. Everyone knows the cliche: lotsa money and a bright career alone won’t give you happiness, blah blah. The difficulty is actually believing it. Well, the painful lessons in the US made me believe in it for sure!

A lucky twist of fate showed this busy resume-builder a way out from the prison that he and the society were so eagerly building around him.

I still think back sometimes about what would have happened if I never knew about Thailand. I’d had to just endure my disgust and put up with the American lifestyle in lieu of any better alternative, living a loveless, cold life like the rest. If for nothing else, these five years were useful in finding out more about myself; mostly through the values I found repulsive, and in turn, wishing for the opposite.

Here, only after one year, I found everything that I was looking for during the previous 10 or so years on two other continents. Seeker is not seeking anymore. Money and career -sure, it would be awfully nice to have plenty of both now, but I can get those any time in my life, with some luck and relatively little effort, like before.

It’s the true, timeless values that make life worth living. The words to describe these values are used so frequently that they are reduced to meaningless cliches now. For me, one year amongst Thais was the way to discover the true meaning of these words again, from people who give it all, sincerely from their hearts. This is what helps to overcome the difficulties that come with such a lifestyle. Finally, a place where I feel I can fit in.

At last, I found home.