Wat Poh is something that I’ve always meant to visit, with the background of a Street Fighter level having a mock-up of a reclining Buddha while you duke it out with your virtual characters on screen.
I trained in the morning here in Lad Prao, at Sasiprapa Gym, before heading out to see Wat Pho: Temple of the Reclining Buddha. I had a training partner from the gym tag along, always fun going on adventures, especially with others on their own journey as well. I opted to catch a taxi to Wat Poh, as I knew we could get there on the metro, but didn’t want to end up in the wrong place with the protests. Little did I know, the taxi took is straight through the division line near Rajadamnern Stadium. It was crazy to see the barricades on both sides, as I’d been watching so much video, looking at pictures, and reading articles before my trip. To finally see it in person was a little nuts, but the protests moved a few days prior to Lumpini Park. We then ended up driving through the same area the shootings took place, as well as the grenade attacks. Of course it would take us going through this to get to the Reclining Buddha!
Once we arrived and said farewell to our awesome Taxi driver, Wittichai, we headed towards the entrance to Wat Poh. It was blazing hot out and my nice shirt was already drenched in sweat within 5 minutes, not to mention I was wearing pants, as it’s required while going inside the temples here. The tickets were 200 baht a piece for entrance to Wat Poh, which isn’t all that bad, of course the Thai price is free though.
The front entrance had these giant statues of warriors to protect the temple. They were rather epic and I couldn’t help but stop and get a picture of one. It felt good to be a tourist for once. After finding the restroom and exploring the premises a little more, we decided it would be time to finally check out what we came for.
The entrance to the temple wasn’t anything spectacular, just a mat to take off your shoes, along with carry-bags to put your shoes in and carry though the temple. The floor was made of white marble and stone. When you see things like this, it does take a second for everything to set-in on how these types of things are constructed. While it may not look like much, it’s really a major feat to see something like this constructed.
Once entering the temple, the Reclining Buddha is on your left, with the head being closest to the entrance, welcoming you with the stoic Buddha face. The temple was PACKED inside, but well ventilated and easy to navigate, only really one way to go. There were little shrines for people to pray and ask for Buddha’s blessing throughout the hall as well as some killer artwork painted onto the walls. There was also a very distinct metal “ting” sound that could be heard reverberating throughout the hall.
As I headed toward the feet of the Buddha, I started to realize that I never thought that there might be something special there! As I slowly crept down the hall, just taking in the whole moment, I noticed the feet had a strange pattern coming up around the toes. I wonder what could be there?
Mother of pearl… The Buddha’s feet are covered in mother of pearl with stone, to make figures, of which I’m not sure of their significance, but am sure they are there to represent something. (If you care to chime in, please comment below) I then wondered, “What is behind the Buddha?!” to which I would soon find out. It was a silly thought, but something that I never once thought to think of until that point in time. A good little laugh for me, at my own expense, no harm done. To be honest, I didn’t really expect anything, and that is exactly what was there… nothing but the back-side of Buddha. There was one thing though, I found out what that “ting” sound was from earlier. There was donation pots for the monks, and you would give 20 baht int he donation box and get a tin full of coins to drop into them as you please. I did find that there wasn’t enough coins in the tin to drop in all of the pots, I chose a few pots to distribute my loot through. Still not sure why it’s like that, I noticed the pots on the end were rather empty as well.
As I approached the end of the winding hall, that surrounded the reclining Buddha, I did notice that there was something below the Buddha’s head. It was more mother of pearl! Similar use to what was on the feet, which is interesting, as the feet and head are very clearly defined as being of different class in Buddhism. Maybe that is what the point of the figures were though? I’m not sure, just speculating.
After exiting the temple and getting our shoes back on, we decided to head back to catch afternoon training. Lucky for us, it was rush-hour and we couldn’t get anyone to take us back to the gym. As soon as we uttered the words “Lad Prao”, the drivers just laughed and drove off. I swear I almost whipped out my camera and started taping it. Definitely would have made for some good laughs later. Eventually, a driver gave in for an un-disclosed amount of money to bring us back. It really didn’t take that long, but I can understand why they wouldn’t want to drive all the way from where they were at, it was crammed with tourists, who I’m sure weren’t traveling very far.
Overall, a very good experience, I would definitely go visit again, as there is another Wat (temple) that we didn’t get to see, which is right next to Wat Poh.