Once upon the time, “globalisation” was a buzz word and tourism was starting to kick in in Thailand. I was studying in Thammsat university and regularly went to the local pub with this view. How stunting was that! Decades went by, a good old scenery hasn’t changed, has it?
Well, it has. This three images are pretty much like the same as I remember then. But the experience around it is definitely different for someone who spent most night out for cheap drinks twenty years ago.
I spare the details such as the snooker tables in the pub then or the nice park next by now.
To me, the most enjoyable transport in Bangkok must be Chao Phraya Express Boat Service. Chao Phraya River is the bloodline of Bangkok. All sort of activities happens along the waterway, creating a vibrant livelihood unlike the enclosed views you get from the road. You can capture people and their relationship with water as well as amazing abstract urban landscape while feeling the fresh air.
We go to this particular place, Hongsa Pathumawas Temple (วัดหงษ์ปทุมาวาส), for my birthday merit for another reason. It locates on Chao Phraya River bank in Pratumthani Province, 20 minutes drive from the northern outskirts of Bangkok. The riverside scene not only has less traffic and is more peaceful than the popular tourist spots in the city, the main attraction of this temple is fish. Actually, its nickname is Wang Pla Wat Hongsa(วังปลาวัดหงษ์ – Swan Temple, Fish Palace) because people come here to feed fish as another way to make a merit.
There is always a triangular relationship among animals, human and religions in one way or another. We have been using animals as the medium to the spiritual world since the ancient time. In general, in Thailand, activities that could harm animals including fishing are not allow in Buddhist temples. Hence, they become sanctuaries for all sorts of creatures. Usually, stray dogs and cats are the most common to be found walking around without a hassle. Some places are famous for a particular wildlife such as monkeys,tigers and birds.
Wat Hongsa offers a row of piers for the merit makers to easily feed the fish and they can buy fish food there. Once the food is tossed into the river, the thousands of fish surface and strive for it. To be honest, it is more fun to watch them than anything else.
Moreover, there will also be a mass merit making this afternoon. They are preparing fish and food for, presumably, a corporate group along side with the monks to free and feed them. Those lucky fish, obtained from markets, will not be anyone’s dinner if they still hang around here.