We hop on the motorbike and head up the windy hill to the monument, the ride up is a blast, twisty turns with small interesting restaurants and stops along the way. One we hit last year but refrained from stopping is the elephant ride. Last year I was so pleased to hear they were going to release the baby elephant back into the wild at a reserve. It was discovered he was captured illegally. I was saddened to see the poor little guy still chained to his small platform posing involuntarily for pictures, I sped by.
As the picturesque rode winds around the hill the first glimpse of the massive statue pops his regal head above the trees. The Big Buddha was built by the King on his 80th birthday; we celebrated his 85th this month.
We entered the lower level and those women improperly dressed where given sarongs to wear. It was like returning my own sacred place; I felt the calmness and uplifting energy immediately. Bim glowed with a huge smile too as she started telling me about everything we saw.
Bim did a walking tour of the temple and was so intense in telling me about it I had her start again and ran the video on my small camera, she shined! She told me about the seven Buddha’s one for each day of the week, her Buddha is Tuesday, and she blew a kiss at the Tuesday statue with a serene smile. She also told me why there are dragons wrapped around the Buddha, to protect him from any distractions in meditation.
Our visit was made complete by a bowl of the coconut ice cream that is made on the spot at the temple. We hopped on the bike and wound down the hill, stopping for a nice lunch of Thai food at a place overlooking the northern exposure of the hill, we could see the thunder storm heading our way.
Half way down the hill the rain hit, and hit hard, I took refuge in a small lean-to until it moderated and we slugged through the rain on the way back to Furthur, as usual it was short and fast so we dried off a bit on the last leg.
I have always gone to great lengths to immerse myself and crew into what ever culture we are visiting. I have danced with Tahitians, drank cava with Tongans, partied with Aussies and totally leaped into the Indonesian culture. One could visit most of the places I have gone and not been affected by the cultures, hop a plane, book a resort and dine at KFC. I did not slug half way around the world at 7 knots to do that. Each time I leap into the pool of a different people I am immensely enriched. The effects are profound, indescribable although I make a feeble attempt.
The Thai culture is the most alluring and easiest to absorb I have found. You easily slide into a warm pool of love and feel the gentle Thai hands massage your shoulders as you slip comfortably deeper in the pool of the culture. I recently heard of a guy who took his Thai girl friend to the US, my gut reaction was that was cruel. That would not be a gentle slide into a tepid pool of love, more like being tossed into the rapids of a cold river banging on submerged rocks and hopping just to survive.
Buddhism does not proselytize it attracts. I have yet to find anyone who wants to convert me yet I want to be converted. The Dali Llama said something to the effect; do not take what you learn from Buddhism to become a Buddhist, take it to become a better whatever you are. I just hope it makes me a better me.