The dragon snuck up on my this year. I knew the new year was coming but then it came and before I knew it we were in the dragon’s belly.
The above picture is from the temple in Sri Racha, ChonBuri, Thailand, the same temple that the Sea Turtles are from. We went there while the classes were on leave for Chinese New Years. Many of my fathers students went back to China to spend the holiday with their families. It was a bit lonely for me because of that, but when they came back they brought presents, like chocolate!
In BangSaen it was pretty quite, but they did hang the iconic red lanterns down the main straight outside the campus. I hope this year is just as nice of a New Year for everyone! Welcome year of the Dragon!
It’s hard to believe that it’s coming up on two years since I left for Thailand. It was such an adventure, though truly challenging at times. I know I failed a good number of those challenges, but I also had some great experiences along the way. It two years sometimes it can feel like so much has change, and barely nothing has changed. When my father talks about going up to the temple I still remember the area so vividly, but I know if I were to visit again it would be very different. For starters Jayron, the monkey pictured above, who had been rescued by the monkeys had been one of the most exciting parts of visiting the Temple. How often in life to you get to be up close and personal with a wild monkey? Last year they released her though, she was strong enough to be in free in the wild. Which makes me wonder what would be my favorite part of a visit if I went there again? It presents a whole new adventure, which hopefully I can have some day.
It’s a new year, and time for new adventures! In 2011 I barely even left the state (I think I went down to Ohare airport once). This year I’m aiming to at least make it to Austin at some point. Hopefully in 2012 a Wings Eye View can show some of America. Until then I will celebrate with some burning incense from the temple of SriChang. These were burning in front of the line of Buddha’s shown in A Buddha A Day.
The Naga at night.
The picture above is a common temple decoration in Thailand. The large green dragon creature is called a Makara, and the serpents coming out of his mouth are the Naga. It’s really quite amazing how religious mythology travels around Asia, borrowing and reinventing. The makara and the naga are both Hindu originally but like many items from Hindu mythology can be seen making guest appearances in Buddhist practices in other countries. It’s always a humbling experience standing at the steps of a temple looking up at the beasts. It is also a very empowering feeling standing at the top of a temple looking down on the twisting body of such a creature.
The temple in Kanchantaburi, Thailand at night.
I can’t stress enough how beautiful Kanchantaburi was. We were there during Songkran so I did not feel comfortable going to the temple service for a holy event I didn’t understand, so instead I waited outside and took photographs. It was amazing how many stars were out so far away from the cities. I often go out to the country or the state parks in Wisconsin. Yet up in the mountains I felt even more removed from the influences of the city. I was amazed how many stars I was able to pick up on film, the image is a bit grainy but still captures the stillness of the night.
The forest outside the temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, was one of the most majestic places I’ve ever been. Under the shade of the towering trees the suns rays seemed like little blessings from above. It was still very hot and humid there, but the heat seemed much more bearable in the peace of the mountain. I can understand why they decided to build a temple in this location, it is easy to feel closer to the heavens. If I return to Thailand this is the one area I truly want to see again.
One of my favorite souvenirs for Thailand is a bracelet with jade turtle beads strung together. Whenever I wear it I always get compliments on it. And of course, I can’t help but brag that I got it at a temple that had a sea turtle rescue, off the cost of Sri Racha, ChonBuri, Thailand. There are actually a lot of efforts going on in southern Thailand to help save the sea turtles, which warmed my heart among all the environmental woes in the industrializing country. Watching all the turtles was so fascinating, I could have spent hours running around their pools. It got even more exciting though… when I got to feed them! Even their food, aka squid, looked cool!
If you want to learn more about the Thai Sea Turtles you can check out this site: Warthai.org or EarthJustice.org