Friday, August 24, 2012

Trip Report: Pt. 21A: Wat Carnival / Fundraiser 2

A monk shared thoughts and bestowed blessings on the assembled, using a long bamboo brush he would dip in water

[This is part 21A of a series that may or may not ever find its way to a proper conclusion. It has to do with my latest trip to Thailand, and the people, places and things I encountered along the way. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here on Trip Reports.]

As you saw yesterday, the work-in-progress temple area along Laem Sing Beach was holding a fundraising festival a few of the nights I was staying nearby at the Seashell Village Resort. Since I don't know the name of it I'm just going to call it the Laem Sing temple. If anyone can provide more of a name than that I'll be more than happy to amend the post.

Boys playing with radio controlled cars at the festival

This monk spoke some English
and was kind enough to spend
some time visiting with me
Both evenings I spent there were fun, even if I did get a little tired of standing to watch the entertainment up on stage after having already walked around sightseeing most of the day.

I confess that part of my time sitting and listening to the monks speaking wasn't entirely driven by a desire for enlightenment - after all, I don't understand much Thai - but it did provide some meditation time; something I'd been shy on for a few days.

Since I didn't understand much of what was being spoken I just tuned it down and spent the time lost within my own thoughts, listening to people nearby having fun and the laughter of the children playing, and frankly that and of itself was as much of a blessing as the water sprinkled on me by the monk that evening.

After my blessing that evening I noticed a somewhat handsome 30-something monk apparently waiting for me at the edge of the group, on my way to the games and food area.  As one of the faith does I offered a high, respectful wai to him, but as he got closer I noticed the unmistakable scent of some form of whiskey on his breath. While I tried to back up he kept moving towards me so it wasn't easy to keep at arm's length.  Then he began to speak, in very limited English, and his speech left no doubt that he'd been celebrating something. [Note: this was NOT the kind monk pictured to the upper left here].

The faithful gather at the festival

I don't mean to sound surprised about a human being acting human, and monks - although they are living life in an honorable service - are human beings. My Thai friend was within reach so I looked to him for his reaction. The monk reached for my arm and held it, pulling me gently towards the area where the new building would be built, off in the direction of the monk's residence.

Worshipers participating in a ceremony

My friend translated for me that my company back off somewhere more private was being requested, but while it was flattering I smiled and shook my head at the monk to indicate "no, thank you." He let go, but he followed us around for a little while afterwards. It's hands down the oddest thing I've ever had happen to me on temple grounds.

The rest of the festival was all I'd hoped it would be, and more.  Children of all ages were playing different games and watching the singers and dancers on the stage to one side of the large, open area.

What you catch you can keep... but it takes some quick reflexes!

In addition to the "fishing" game above, there was a ball toss, a long counter lined with people throwing darts at a wall of balloons, radio controlled cars to race and several other games of skill and chance. The fish game the boys are playing above cost 10 baht.  For that, you were given a cup and a small "net" - a wire circle covered with an extremely thin layer of what I took to be some sort of tissue. The tissue quickly became too week to hold a fish, so you had to move fast to catch even a single one.  I handed the man running it two 20 baht notes and pointed to the two above, giving me time enough to get a picture, but not much more than that.

The stage was a hive of activity. Group after group were introduced and took the stage. Most appeared to be amateur acts; perhaps there was a better-known act of sorts after we'd left, but what I saw were more or less just regular folks you'd see at any small town show.

The little kids were the most fun to watch, because it seemed as if they were having the most fun in the spotlight. I usually don't care for heavy makeup on little girls - like the ones below - but it was difficult not to smile along with them as they giggled while attempting to do their rather graceful routines. 

There were snacks a-plenty, and fireworks, to boot.  In fact, the fireworks were set off right in the middle of things and not off in a separate area as they'd be done here at home.  We were close enough that it made me jump when they started in with them, and, as you can see, they weren't all that securely grounded!

Some of the mortars launched one night

Popcorn for sale at one booth - there were three popcorn booths

They were both nice evenings, and it was even nicer to be welcomed in by the locals for the event.  As usual, a few wanted to come up and say hello to practice their English, and that was an added bonus.  If you ever see an event such as this, I encourage you to stop and wander through. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a very interesting blog. Great to read about some of the activities some of us miss in this wonderful country.
Keep up the good work. C.

khunbaobao said...

You're welcome! On a purely selfish level, telling the story helps cement it in my memory - and with any luck at all they may inspire someone to make a friend to accompany them and be a bit more adventurous over there themselves. The internet makes spontaneity a little easier.