El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

A nice Saturday

October 15, 2011 0

(Taken with my iPhone)

After three hours shut-eye last night, I woke up and had trouble getting back to sleep. So when 5am rolled around this morning, I could hardly be bothered to get out of bed.

God, am I glad I did.

5:45am and Chris and I were out the door, and making our way to Thanon Kraisi. It seemed like the rest of Bangkok was waking up too, to beautiful blue skies after days of intermittent thunderstorms.

It was around 7am when we finished making dana offerings to the monks (probably one of the most addictive activities I’ve ever done!). After going to Ethos, only to discover it was still closed, we did what any classy person would do – we dropped by Burger King to ‘wait’ until Ethos was opened 😉

One shared onion rings, a Coke and a coffee later, and Chris asked if we could go to Wat Phra Kaew because he’d never been before, and he was already too full for Ethos.

Okay, I need to get this out of my system – I hate being cheated out by greedy people, just because I’m a farang and they assume I’m too naive to know any better. Approaching tuk tuk drivers insisted Wat Phra Kaew was 60baht away, and some taxi drivers refused to use their meters and said they wanted to charge 50 to 60baht.

Oi listen – I’ve walked to Wat Phra Kaew before from Khao San Road, and it is not a 60baht trip. It’s not the cost dude, it’s the principle.

Luck was with us though, and we found one driver who took us there using the meter. It came up to 40baht, but we gave him a 20baht tip anyway because he was nice and not greedy.

Having arrived at Wat Phra Kaew at 7:30am, we found ourselves too early for the temple’s opening (they open at 8:30am) so we decided to take a stroll in the direction of the Tha Chan Pier.

What we found was both disturbing and fascinating – water from the river spilling over into the pier and into an outdoor dining area, with a wall of sandbags built up to channel water out onto the street and into a manhole.

After staring for much longer than was necessary (and given I’d cut my toe earlier in the morning, standing ankle-deep in floodwater was not really advisable), we walked back to Wat Phra Kaew.

We made our way inside, dodging past hordes of mainland Chinese tourists who, just 30 minutes before entering the temple, had stood outside the same temple mocking some Falun Gong protestors. After a few photos of the grounds, we made our way into the Emerald Buddha hall and after making our prostrations, sat down to do our sadhana.

About 20 minutes later, over 100 monks of all ages filed silently into the hall and sat down. They began their chanting and I can tell you this – it’s quite something to hear so many monks chanting in Pali and in unison, in front of Thailand’s most holy Buddha image. Chris and I were gobsmacked by the opportunity to recite along with the monks and later, to prostrate to over 100 vow holders.

It rounded off what was a very nice, and very pleasant morning full of unexpected surprises, much needed after days of stressing about the floods.

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