Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Out At The Wat: Around Bang Kung

This is the third of three posts about Wat Bang Kung, the small temple building nearly engulfed in ficus trees at Camp Bang Kung in Amphawa.  Part one showed the growth around the building, part two covered making merit and the inside of the temple, and today I thought I'd take you on a walk around the immediate grounds.

To make sure you're aware that this has been (and still is, to a degree) a military post there's a smiling cartoon-like statue of a man with a Thai name on his uniform and a canteen that says "U.S." on it standing on the other side of the road from the covered building and the other larger, more modern structures like the ones still being guarded by muay thai warriors up top and below.

In addition to the long rows of symbolic warriors - representing a battle long ago to protect the temple grounds - there are several spots for visitor "photo ops". One by one the students took turns standing behind them, some making silly faces; sticking their tongues out, rolling their eyes as if they're bored with goring their enemies - and some putting on a fierce face.

Either way, their fellow students were entertained. The girls giggled and the boys howled at the antics of their friends. Since I was standing there taking a couple of pictures I heard one of them saying "You! You!", and when I looked over I understood by his pointing that he wanted me to pose behind one of them, so I chose the taller of the two and stuck my face through it. The kids howled while I made faces, and it was nice to be a kid for a couple of minutes.

Count yourselves fortunate that I didn't think to hand my camera to one of them first.

I've found the children I've run across on field trips while in Thailand to be orderly groups. Naturally, there are teachers along to keep them in line, but while they are children and have the energy of 10 adults they tend to be quieter and able to stay on task with their school projects most of the time; be that a writing assignment, a question and answer session with their teacher or just standing and appreciating with that innocent wonder what's in front of them. One little girl seemed spellbound by the tree wrapped around the building, and stood following the roots and branches with her eyes, as if to memorize them.

When left to their own devices, though, the kids became kids - and that's when I found them posing with the warriors, or just gathered together to talk like kids do anywhere. The group below is no different.

The long lines of somewhat simple statues of the muay thai warriors around the grounds were the inspiration for dozens of photos I saw taken that day.  One by one and two by two the tourists stood next to one statue or another, holding their arms or leg up as if in mortal combat with it. It reminded me of the guards at the Grand Palace who stand motionless while tourists take their photos with them.  You can almost hear them saying to themselves "Oh, good grief... another one?"

One last picture today of some of the warriors. At least they had some dependable shade. It was hot that afternoon!

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