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Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Golden Buddha: Bangkok sanctuary of stray cats & dogs.

Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha

After our shopping escapades at Siam Discovery, Seby and I were glad to discover Thailand’s spiritual side.

Our personal tour guide, Sylvie from Destination Asia, brought us to the famous Buddhist temple of Wat Pho. (2 Sanamchai Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok.)

wat pho temple gate

This is one of the oldest and largest wats (Buddhist monasteries) in Bangkok. Entry fee is a low 100 baht, or $3. The walled complex has 16 gates, guarded by menacing Chinese stone giants.

buddhist medical yoga drawings

Wat Pho is a historic center of education for Thai massage and medicine; it’s considered the first public university in the country. Many of the walls showed instructive yoga diagrams.

chinese gods statues, temple

There are over 1000 images of the Buddha here, surrounded by colorful, gold-accented roofs.

buddhist statues, bangkok thailand

One courtyard held statues imported from China and India. Interesting to see the different ways the Buddha is depicted in art.

thai spirit animal statue, wat pho

Mythological lions and other spirit animals peered from the gardens.

golden reclining buddha state

We went inside to see the Reclining Buddha statue, a golden marvel that measures 160 ft long.

buddha's feet, wat pho gold statue

Who knew, the Buddha has big feet! The soles are laden with mother of pearl, and carved with stories and figures from Siddhartha’s life journey.

temple of golden buddha, buddhist altar

Seby and I also went into this meditation room, where people prayed at the Golden Buddha’s altar.

wat pho dress code, temple rules

Once again, I accidentally violated the dress code! I thought I was sufficiently covered-up. But apparently, your shoulders cannot be on display at all, and a long skirt can’t have a slit in it. The security officer glares as I put on skirts and scarves, provided by the temple.

wat pho tickets, passes

My companion, on the other hand, was appropriately dressed. For future reference, one must wear long pants (no capris or shorts) and skirts must reach below the knee, without any slits. Shoulders and chests should be covered.

wat pho towers, thai temple roof

Close-up of the dynamic rooftop, with its gilded layers and fiery shapes.

silhouette temple spires, towers

The silhouette of spires against the sky.

bangkok temple statues, monks in robes

We glimpsed many Buddhist monks in orange robes, as well as young temple boys. Sylvie reminded us to maintain distance, out of respect. We learned that laypeople can become monks for a few years, or even a few weeks, and then go back to regular life.

thai monk, orange robes

Walking around, we saw that Wat Pho is also populated by dogs and cats!

Row Of Golden Buddha Statues, wat pho

The story’s a sad one: these pets were abandoned. Thailand doesn’t have many resources for animals, so they are left at Buddhist temples, in the hope that the monks will take care of them. While a bit scruffy, this dog looked calm in front of the famous Row of Golden Buddhas.

stray white cat, bangkok thailand cats

This white cat came over to say hi. Some were very skinny and lacked tails… what a difference from my rotund Basil Farrow.

dog sanctuary, buddhist temple

The compassion of the Buddhists keeps these creatures alive, but the monks have few resources themselves. If you’d like to help, look up Temple Dogs Voluntourism programs, where travelers can help care for animals in Thai monasteries.

wat pho chedis, stupas

Having Sylvie as our Destination Asia guide made this experience special. We had a memorable conversation about Buddhism, and learned about the history and architecture in a natural, relaxed way. (I found out these mounds are called chedis or stupas, and they contain relics such as the ashes of monks.)

stupas, bell-shaped tower buddhist monastery

In a packed trip, we appreciated this moment to reflect and think about what’s truly important. I hope you’ll get to experience Thailand’s gorgeous temples for yourself.

orange robe monks in temple

Have you visited a monastery like this, or read books about Buddhism? Do you consider yourself part of any religion?

bangkok airport statue, churning of sea

I leave you with another spiritual statue — this one Hindu, and found in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, of all places. The “Churning of the Ocean of Milk” or “Samudra manthan” depicts a mythological tale of devas and asuras. How funny to see the Gucci sign in the background.

SHARE & COMMENT

38 Comments

  1. Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    How beautiful
    You are lucky you can travel to places like this
    Love

  2. Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    merci La Carmina

  3. Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    you have the most irresistible cat ever!

  4. Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Wow! These photos are incredible! Especially the ones at Wat Pho – very interesting! And LOL to your dress code violation! Scandal! You’re like a hot international dress code violator lol!

    • Posted December 18, 2013 at 2:52 am | Permalink

      haha I am sure our next trip will have yet another incident report…

  5. Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m somewhat of practicing Buddhist, except I like meat too much. My father was a Monk for a week or so when he was in Korea. He hated giving back the robes when it was done.

    • Posted December 18, 2013 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      My guide’s husband did this for a year, and learned so much from it. Very nice to visit a place where Buddhism has such a big influence.

  6. Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Sawadee
    Thanks for visiting Thai

    • Posted December 18, 2013 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      I love Thailand!

  7. Posted December 17, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Thank u for writing about the animals and how to help them. It’s an important cause to me.

  8. Posted December 17, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I read some Buddhism.

  9. Posted December 17, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    This sounds like a great place to go. I’d love to spend some time at a monastry like that :)

    • Posted December 18, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

      It was one of my favorite travel experiences this year! Hope you can go :)

  10. Posted December 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Even when you violated the rules you still look amazing hahaha

  11. Posted December 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    A classic place :)

  12. Posted December 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos of the stupas.

  13. Posted December 18, 2013 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    many cats and many dog they were left by their owner…
    sad story…
    but have many ppl in Thailand too,who always try to help them.

    sometime have many dogs or cats they stray from home too.

    but here have cats and dogs rescue.

    for all of this, i think it not enough for helping :(

    i think,if some of thai people don’t have awareness about animal life.this situation it always happening.

    PS. i like your dress too much (>_<)/

    • Posted December 18, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

      Thank you dear. Yes, I hope more people learn about this issue!

  14. Posted December 18, 2013 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    love it. good work.

  15. Posted December 19, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Love love

  16. Posted December 19, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Cool :)

  17. Posted December 19, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Carmina! Happy Travels!

  18. Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    La Carminaが、みんなの元気のモトってね♪

  19. Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    I bought some books today and it just so happens that one of them was yours

  20. Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    I LOVED Thailand.

  21. Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    hen are you coming to bangkok again?

    • Posted December 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      hopefully soon!

  22. Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    It is a beautiful place! I enjoy your travels! Thank you so much for sharing them with us! P.S. Luv that cute litle Basil Farrow!

  23. Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    wanderful

  24. Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Posted December 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been there also it’s beautifully awesome !!!

    • Posted December 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      I love this temple

  26. Posted December 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Falto como una estatua a tu lado

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