Friday, March 18, 2005

Day 1c

Bangkok. Wow. What a wild ride.

We headed out from our hotel just after we showered and got our bearings. We walked 5 minutes or so to the subway (which was a good experience compared to Rome's subway!) and took it to another tram. Hopped on that and then got off at Siam Square. (Darin, we had asked for directions to "Time Square" as you said and this is where they sent us!) Once at Siam Square, we hailed a tuk-tuk.

Okay, so a tuk-tuk is like a 3-wheel motorcycle with a seat for two in the back. Our tuk-tuk driver was called Alan and he was our guide for the afternoon.

First thing: driving in Bangkok is obscene. Really, you always feel like death is as close as your own breath. Yet these drivers are very good. I guess it just looks messy. The yellow lines that divide you from oncoming traffic? Yah, they're just suggestions. Here is a short clip of a near-death experience.

At any rate, he took us to several wát (temples). Here are some phots from the various temples we visited.

The largest reclining Buddha in the world.

This is an interesting thing: in Thailand (which is 95% Therevada Buddhist), most men become monks at some point before they get married... pretty wild, ey?

While we were at Wát Pho, we heard that there was a traditional Thai medicine/massage school there where you could get cheap massages in a fan-cooled room. Oh, and this is something I haven't really mentioned yet: it is as humid as Arkansas in the summertime... perhaps even more so. At any rate, Holly and I got a 30-minute traditional Thai massage that we swear was like an hour and amazing. Wow.

Back in the tuk-tuk for more. We asked our tuk-tuk driver to take us to this market (think "The Beach" in Bangkok where Leo drinks snake blood). Some of what we saw...

Some other shots...

Some other reflections: Being here in Bangkok actually feels a great deal like being in Rome... from a religious standpoint. Rome was where Christianity was really taken into the Western world and there are so many ornate, huge churches there. Here in Bangkok is one of the places Buddhism spread to when King Ashoka decided to make it a missionary religion. The temples are amazingly (almost grossly sometimes) ornate. It just feels similar, you know? And as I see so many of the golden buddhas being bowed to or being sold, I cannot help but think that perhaps this is not what Sidartha Guatama intended, you know? Like, I wonder if he's ever like, "You're missing the point. The point wasn't me; the point is emptying yourself." I sometimes think Jesus might say a similar thing, "The point is YHWH, not me." But I dunno, and I am sure there are some of my orthodox friends out there who are just shaking their heads at me!

Okay, well, we are now in the Bangkok airport, waiting for our flight to Phuket. While Bangkok was great, it feels like the trip begins today once we get there. Please remember us in prayer. Thank you.


Danae said...

i just prayed for you both - that you would be able to get good sleep, that you wouldn't get sick from any food you eat and that God would give you both His vision for your time there! i pray he blesses you as you act as his hands and his heart. love you guys!! great pics!

ashdown said...

great photos! it is so great to journey with you guys in your time away. i am definately praying for you guys, i hope your time in phuket comes together well. cant wait to hear all about it!