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Posts Tagged ‘Buddha’

Cholon, or big market is the area of Saigon where people of Chinese descent traditionally lived.  It is know to them as Dī’àn – or embankment, due to the large embankment built next to the river to stop flooding.

Originally a separate City, it was merged with Saigon to form Saigon-Cholon – The Cholon part of the name being dropped in the 1950’s.  Later many ethnic Chinese left Vietnam, changing the racial makeup of the area, though walking around you can get a feel for the heritage of the area.

The area is blessed with more temples than any other area of the city, dedicated to the many Gods of the Taoist and Buddhist traditions. Each one a place where someone can make an offering to hope that some wish will be fulfilled.

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My favourite part of nearly all Vietnamese Chinese temples are the rockeries or Hòn Non Bô – little miniature worlds where the gods live in a kind of mountainous Island.

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Worship is the main draw of these temples – they see many more worshippers than tourists.

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And these aren’t the only places of worship.

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The Religious sights might be the main draw, but commerce is the main reason the area came to be – Buying and selling is still the heart of the community.

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Always in pairs, huge Chinese dolls guard the gateways of many of Bangkok’s temples.  However, none are as impressive as the examples found in the famous Wat Pho – home to the country’s largest reclining Buddha.

The statues are known as “Up Chao” in Thai, meaning ballast, and actually many were brought from China for this purpose.  The main trade from Thailand to China was in heavy resources such as tin, lead, wood and rice, on the return however the lighter Chinese products weren’t enough to weigh the ship down in the water, so these cheap concrete statues were perfect for the job.  However, many of the statues in Wat pho were believed to have been specially made by Chinese artisans in Bangkok as a  thank you to the royal family of the time.

 

 

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A great place to see real Thai people getting to grips with on of the country’s most popular hobbies.  Men come to spend hours studying the amulets looking for unique and rare examples to add to their collection.  The most expensive will contain hairs from auspicious Monks, and will have been blessed over an extended time.  Strangely, the trade in Buddha images is illegal in Thailand – To get by this the representations are “Rented” to the collectors.

Here are a few of my photos:

A selection of Amulets

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Buyers pore over amulets

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Pictures of a young Prince as a Monk

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A collection of statues, and an Artisan creating a large example

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Lucky catfish

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A cat naps on top of the Amulets

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Started in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, the Buddha park contains more than 200 statues from the Buddhist and Hindu pantheon. Its a masterpiece of outsider art.

Luang Pu combined both Buddhism and Hinduism to create his own doctrine.  He left Laos after the revolution in 1975 to Thailand – only 200m away over the river and visible from the park. He continued his project there, building another sculpture park in Nong Khai.

 

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No trip to Bangkok is complete without a trip to Wat Pho and the Royal Palace – wearing your only pair of trousers and long sleeve shirt in the blazing hot sun, no immodesty here please!

But it’s definitely worth it – Lustrous gold and brightly coloured glass all shine in the sun drawing your attention to the remarkably detailed stupas and Buddha statues.  The palace itself tries to be as close to heaven as possible – the only fitting home for a dynasty which have traditionally been seen as demi-gods.

Along with Wat Pho, the palace is seen as the focus of Buddhism in Thailand, and although the royal family have now moved to a modern European style palace, this area is still a deeply religious one – hence the long sleeves.

It is, however, a bit of a tourist trap, with wave after wave of people bussed in on their Thailand tour, so it’s never going to be a relaxing experience.  But as with all tourist traps – there’s a reason they’re there!!

The Great reclining Buddha’s toes

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Buddhas lining the corridors that surround the central temples in Wat Pho

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Some of the many demons and gods protecting the religious areas of the royal palace

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Mother of pearl detail on the Buddha’s Feet

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The huge reclining Buddha

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The Great Buddhas face and that of a Taoist statue outside protecting the temple.

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Not BKK, but a nice photo of a local kid on the beach in Koh Chang

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