Friday, January 30, 2009

Wat Phrah Singh

We decided to start at the top and visit Wat Phrah Singh, the most important Wat in Northern Thailand for our first cultural trip in Chiang Mai. It used to house the Emerald Buddha that is now in Bangkok, in recent times the king has given a replica that is displayed here.

There was a huge amount of activity when we arrived and we soon learnt that the Head Abbot in his early 90s had died on Saturday and his coffin was on view for people to pay their last respects to. His robes, bag and bowl, all his worldly goods probably, were placed in front of the many Buddhas of the Wat and his coffin, with large photo, was to the right surrounded by ranks of gorgeous orchids.

Outside preparations were underway for a celebration of his life, a huge gathering was obviously being expected and groups of young monks were busy decorating shaded seating areas either side of the Lanna style Viharn Lai Kam.

We did have a discussion with a young monk from Laos about the finer points of English. He was looking at a text book on a stall and puzzling about the phrases 'able minded' and 'jagged' for drunk. I don't think we were much help really as I've never heard of the later being used in that context and we didn't think the former was used much at all. Oh well.

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