Day 3 and I’ve travelled 270km further North to Phitsanulok.
As it is one of the longer journeys of the trip, and I’m sticking to the rule of ‘1 town per night’, there wasn’t much time to waste. Found a bed, dropped the bag and headed through the town to Wat Phra Si Rattana.
The highlight of the ground is the Phra Phuttha Chinnarat (The Lord of Victory) Golden Buddha statue. Regarded as perhaps ‘The most beautiful Buddha in Thailand’…..which, to me, begs the question, “How did they measure that?”. Public Vote? X-Factor style television program?……’Thailand’s got Buddha?’…….’Buddha Beauty 2015′?. May be subjective, but it was beautiful to me, anyway.
I’m not a religious person, but I think if I had to choose, it would be Buddhism for me. For some reason, the religion just seems really clean and simple. There seems to be less dogma, and less room for individual interpretation compared to other religions (I’m thinking about a couple of sets of good friends I know from back home who would both define themselves as Christian…..yet I know that if they ever met they would be hard-pressed to agree on the majority of things that Christianity means to them…)
That being said, there are certain similarities with other forms of religion that you see in a temple which don’t fully sit well with me. One first thing is the link between places of worship and money. I know that the buildings and Monks need this money to function, and that people willingly give it in return for a place to worship, meditate, and to receive blessings and advice from the Monks. There just seems to be something which is hard to articulate….like a niggling contradiction about how in-your-face it is. There are banknotes scattered everywhere in the temple. In transparent donation boxes, pinned up in pots and arrangements…..The most bizarre one I saw (not in Phitsanulok) was in the form of an electronic blessing machine. It was like a fruit machine…..put in your note, press a button, an electronic light points to the particular type of blessing or advice for you. It seemed like it would fit in better at a fairground or Vegas compared to the scenic temple!
Anyway, my (subjective) thoughts on that aside. Thanks Phitsanulok for my 1 day stop. Next! On to Sukothai!