Appon's Thai Life

Religion - Thai Life Archives

Superstar Monks : Pra Mahasompong

In Thailand we have famous monks the same way you have famous preachers. This monk is called Pra Mahasompong. He's known for getting his messages over with a few jokes and a smile. You can hear the audience laughing, so let me try to explain a few of the jokes.

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Wan Assanhabucha, July 15th 2554

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Today is a temple party, and for the next 4 days there are festivals in all the Buddhist temples across Thailand. I'm visiting Wat Tham Mongkhonat (13.6872N 100.6150E). Wat is Thai for temple, and Wat Tham Mongkhonat is a large and popular complex of temples and schools a short bike ride from On Nut Skytrain station.

It starts early, I arrived at 7.30am with an offering of food for the monks and there was already a long queue snaking around the car park. On this day the monks eat first, so I have not eaten breakfast.

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Buddha by Day

Each day of the week has a stance of Buddha (sitting, standing, etc.), you find the weekday and time of your birth, then pray to the Buddha corresponding to you're day. There are 9 in all, Wednesday has 2 stances, one for day-time and one for night-time, and the 9th is a Buddha for when you don't know your birthday.

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Google Thailand, กูเกิลไทยแลนด์

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Google has opened an office in Thailand, and appointed a Thai business leader, Ariya Banomyong, to create their business presence here. (Google provide the advertising for this site)

Sadly at the moment, it's just a sales office, intended to market Google adverts to Thai companies. I hope it will grow to be a software development center, there's a lot of talent in Thailand, but very few technology companies here. The companies that are here use it as a cheap manufacturing base, and sales office rather than a design center.

Thai's have our own language, our own written script, our own customs, and unique geographic rules, and Google has quite a few problems with all of these so perhaps this will improve Google Thailand services over time.

Their office is at level 29, of the Office at Central World, between Chitlom and Siam Skytrain stations.

Welcome to Thailand.

Luang Por Waen Sujinno Model

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I visited Khlong Latmayom floating market in Bangkok recently, and found a stall selling statues of famous long gone monks. Just as there are popular monks in Thailand today, some funny monks, some wise monks, so there have been many in the past. My favorite of the deceased monks is Luang Por Waen, and they have a very lifelike statue of him.

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Chinese Buddha Temple, Samrong, Bangkok

I found a really nice Buddha temple behind Imperial World shopping center, with a long line of bells to ring. The decoration on this temple is exquisite, take time to look at the paintings above your head as you ring the bells, especially the woman breastfeeding a grown man (see below).

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Liew Khiewchanta, Dead at 21

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My younger brother, Liew Khiewchanta, had an accident on his motorcycle yesterday. A truck hit him, dragged him along the road before stopping, his skull was crushed. It's not his first motorcycle accident, I told him then to use the bus, its safer. He didn't listen. He never listens.

You can see him above at the funeral of my father, head shaved like a monk ceremony.

Doctors said he had a 50-50 chance if they operated on his brain. Some frantic money transfers later he was being operated on. Thailand has no universal healthcare, if you don't have money they won't operate.

My mother rang me from the hospital yesterday to tell me the operation was a success and this morning he can move, but not yet talk.

So now I'm going to kill him for not listening to his sister! Tragic really, he'll leave behind a wife and kids, but I did warn him! The doctors finished the operation at 2am, after failing to find a brain in his skull. They looked and looked, but his head was completely empty. Even a scan, and a microscope couldn't find it. That is probably what saved him.

Get well soon brother. Your sister loves you.

[Updated 2nd Feb: He's back in ITU tonight]
[Updated 5th Feb: Another operation. Pray]
[Evening of 6th Feb 2012: The Doctor has called us and told us to go to the hospital]

18th Feb: He is stable, and sometimes conscious. So far he can move his left limbs, but he cannot yet control his right arm and leg. His brain is damaged on the left side and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.
He has some sense of person, when I asked him to blink if he knew me, he blinks. When I asked him his name, he moved his lips, but with the pipe in his neck, he can't actually speak.
He will be X-rayed in the coming days to see if there is water build up in the brain and if there is, they'll put in a shunt, a tube that will drain excess fluid off into another part of the body. His wife will continue sessions of arm and leg movement to help his brain re-learn how to control them. We're hopeful. He won't be what he was, but perhaps he can still recover enough for me to kill him.

Hot today, time for the seaside

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Breaking news: Thailand is always hot! I know that isn't really news to you, but I think it's worth mentioning since this is the humid hot season, it's especially hot and the reason we have the Songkran water festival at this time of year.

It's also the reason there is no hot tap in Thai homes. Take a look at my sink, there is no hot tap and the cold tap water is currently coming out at 40 degrees celsius, warmed by the sun baked concrete it passes through. Bathe in this water and it would warm you up, not cool you down. It's above body temperature, not below it.

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Superstar Monk, P.M.Sompong Talaphutto

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I've mentioned Pra Maha Sompong before, one of the superstar monks that teaches life lessons through humour. Well one of the major Thai building companies, Supalai, invited him to do a talk at their new office block. It gives the company good luck to invite monks to talk, and helps promote their projects to potential customers.

I live in a Supalai building, saw the poster inviting people to go, and naturally I jumped at the chance to attend.

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Not Buddhism

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You've probably seen these in the gardens of most buildings in Thailand. They're not Buddha images as you might think, they're an 'angel' that faces 4 ways to watch over your home by looking over it in 4 directions.
You'll see food, drink, flowers all offered to these statues to protect the home from thieves, and the loved ones in it, from harm. They even make them look like Budha's sometimes, but it's not Buddhism, and that's not a Buddha statue.

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Buddha Day, Candle Procession

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Today (Thursday 2nd August 2012) is a Buddha day, a religious day when we do Buddhist things. I normally do a tambone at a temple in the morning on these days, a gift donation to the monks and the temple. Today though, I'm doing a candle procession, a walk around the temple carrying a lighted candle.

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Buddha Day 3/Aug/2012

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The second day of this religious festival, and rather than take photographs of temple buildings, which has been done a million times by a million people. Rather than do that, I'm photographing textures.

My day starts early, 7am, I'm late, as always, and I still have to buy my food offering, but I have plenty of flowers ready, candles and incense. So I hop on my bike and drive to the temple I'm going to visit today, it has a large reclining Buddha, it has a central location so easy to get to, but what it doesn't have is people. Nobody!

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Consecrating Wat Padungthamapotivad

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A new temple is opening in Khuekkahk, a little bit north of Phuket on the Andaman sea. This is a rare event, and it's said if you get to attend 9 of these in your lifetime, then you are blessed indeed. This is my second, the first I went to as a small child. Too small to remember much.

The basic ceremony is: The temple is surrounded by stone balls. The balls hang suspended above holes in the ground into which they will stay. They're suspended by sticks forming a cradle. You cut one stick each with a knife, the ball falls into the hole and a statue is moved over it to seal the hole.

It's such a prized thing, being part of this ceremony, that you have to book well in advance. There are a fixed number of sticks holding up the ball, and a fixed number of knives. Naturally, I called well ahead and booked my place.

I thought I would stop for a quick swim in the warm Andaman sea, and try out my new underwater camera. I have plenty of time! And, after all, I did book....

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Yamu Night Fishing Competition

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Yamu peninsular is a pretty piece of Phuket shared by fishermen and wealthy villa owners. The fishermen have more fun. This weekend is their night fishing competition, with cash prizes and a party to follow. Oh and not to mention these terribly cheesy trophies with the little fish on them!

I'm here to bid on the fish. The catch is auctioned off and the proceeds go to Yamu town. I want to get the largest fish for a barbecue, so I can say I went to the competition, bought, cooked and ate the competition winning fish.

Well that's my plan. As ever things don't go to plan and, as ever, it was because I was late.

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6 More To Go

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In Phangna another temple is being opened. I've covered this ceremony before, the stone balls, gilded by gold leaf, suspended with sticks. The sticks are cut with ceremonial knifes, dropping the balls into the holes surrounding the temple. For this new temple, I'm doing different ceremonies, the gilding of the balls, and the raising of the gold swan. The actual ball drop isn't till Sunday, if you're near Phangna, there's still time to attend!

Wat Maneesee Mahahtad is worth a visit on normal days, it has a huge statue of an old revered monk, and a wax works of popular old monks to see. They're eerily life like too, you feel sort of scared to get the camera close to their faces in case the turn around and complain!

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Wat Kowrang Dedication *happening now*

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Wat Kowrang, a temple on Kow-rang hill in Phuket town, Phuket, has a temple dedication ceremony on at the moment. These are enormously important, it's considered extremely good luck to participate in these ceremonies, better still, if you can do 9 of these in your life time.

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Guilding and Remembering

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It's been quite a while, four years in fact since my father died. Time to remember.

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