The next stop from Nong Khai was Phitsanulok to catch up with one my childhood friends, who moved there to run a small restaurant.
Other than that, what I’d like to do the most in the town was to visit Buddha Chinnarat. I was here when I was little and remembered the beauty of the Buddha image. I felt peace by just sitting in the temple. For the first time I realised how religious art could cleanse us. This could be a so-called pilgrimage for me.
However, decades go by, here I was again. It was disappointing that feeling was not there anymore. Not sure it was because of getting old or the constant announcement in the temple. Probably it was not the first reason since I was in another temple this year and had that effect in me.
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.
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.