Buddhism history in Thai
Wat Nong Bua in Tha Wang Pha district of Nan Province was built in 1862 during the reign of King Rama V. It was built by Tai Lue craftsmen who had migrated here from Southern China. Inside the temple there are wall murals that were believed to have been painted more than one hundred years ago. Their artistic value and degree of perfection equal those at the more famous Wat Phumin.
This is Wat Khok Kham in Samut Sakhon. Here there is an old chapel building that was once visited by King Rama 4. The gable of the chapel has a wooden engraving.
At Wat Ton Pho Sri Maha Pho in Sri Mahosot District of Prachinburi, there is a giant Bodhi tree that is believed to be over 2, 000 years old. It has a circumference of 20 meters and a height of 30 meters making it both the biggest and oldest of its kind in Thailand.
About five years ago the BBC had a story about an image of David Beckham that could be found at a Thai temple in Bangkok. It was never the easiest of temples to reach, but since they opened the BRT bus route it is now very convenient to go to this temple as it is right next to BRT Wat Pariwat. You walk down a lane until you reach the main buildings. I asked a nun if this was the right temple for David Beckham but she had never heard of him. Obviously she doesn’t watch English football. But, she took me to a monk who does!
The monk confirmed to me that Wat Pariwat was indeed the famous David Beckham temple. However, he said in the last few years hardly anyone has come to see the image of the footballer. The building with the blue roof is normally locked but he asked someone to go and open it for me. This is the main Buddha shrine inside the chapel. It is easier to find it open on “wan phra” days which are the Buddhist holy days which coincide with the phases of the moon. If you find it locked then they don’t mind opening it for you.
To the right of the Buddha image in the far corner you will find that one of the images decorating the base to be very familiar. It is indeed the famous English footballer David Beckham! It is also worth visiting around the back of the temple alongside the Chao Phraya river. I was told that this is a popular location in the evenings where people come to eat and also feed the fish. The people there were really kind to me and gave me a free iced fruit drink! Obviously not many foreigners come here. But, maybe this will change soon.
Samui is a popular destination for foreign tourists who go there for the sun, sea and surf. But, there is also something there that reminds us that we are not permanent fixtures on this planet. In Buddhism, people are taught about the impermanence of life which is why sometimes you might see corpses at Thai temples. They act as a reminder. A macabre example of this can be seen at Wat Kunaram, towards the south of Koh Samui.
Luang Pho Daeng used to be the abbot of Wat Kunaram. He used to be a happily married man with children. But, when he was 50, he decided to devote the remainder of his life to the monkhood. He ordained in 1944 and became well known for his meditation techniques. As a result he had many followers. When he reached the age of 79, he knew he was soon to die and so decided to sit and meditate until the end. He died a short while later in 1973.
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