Sunday, March 11, 2012

Family, Tradition and Goldfingers

Tevye: Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!

Nee got a call from the shipper this week.  Our boxes had arrived, all 66 of them weighing 3,000 pounds.  My brother-in-law, Suvit, and his wife, very kindly stationed themselves at our house in Bangkok for a couple of hours waiting for the truck to arrive.  Unfortunately, Nee's house is without air conditioning making the wait quite uncomfortable.  They oversaw the placement of the boxes throughout the house and now we have the remainder of our worldly belongings.  We only need to find a job, find a home and then get a truck to move them here.  All such details will work themselves out with time.  In the meantime, I feel fortunate to have such a supportive family.

Wednesday, I got the day off for Macha Bucha Day, a Buddhist holiday.  Tradition says it is the day that Buddha, having reached his state of enlightenment, was met by 1,250 other enlightened monks whom he them blessed as Buddhas, as well.  Our friends out in Sun Sai took us out to see the Temple of Four Buddha Footprints.  They met us at our apartment in the morning in their 4x4 Toyota along with two other folks, a total of 8 when including Nee and me.  We drove north to Mae Rim into the hills, up a very narrow and winding road.  The patience of Thai drivers always amazes me.  An American would have been screaming at each motorcycle and slow truck they passed.  Our driver, the son of the car owner, merely focused on his driving and stayed calm then entire hour and a half of driving.  Such patience would do me much good in my new career and life.

Upon our arrival, the parking lot was filled with hundreds of people walking up the hill from their cars and motorcycles, as well as additional arriving vehicles.  Military police were there to direct traffic making me wonder if, perhaps, there was a concern of a terror plot.  None occurred and I wasn't particularly worried. 

We walked up the hill to see pilgrims placing gold leaf on iron balls hanging from ropes over square holes in the ground.  There were nine balls in total.  I found out they are called, "luk nimit."  One is in the center of the circle while the others are placed at 8 points of the compass, probably representing the 8 Fold Path of Buddha.  Nee said that once the balls are covered in gold leaf, the Princess will come to cut the ropes holding them and they will be buried.  A bit like placing a cornerstone in a western building.  I was impressed and awed by the number of people, including myself, who carefully placed a piece of gold leaf on each ball often leaving bits of gold on fingers, face and hair.

I stood and listened to the chanting, feeling the warm air around me, the smell of incense, the call of birds and the sound of the trees swaying in the wind. 

The temple is like many of them here, a collection of several temples, each with its own unique architecture. However this is special. It is the Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints. The story is that the orginal Buddha, Siddartha, once came here and left his foot print, a very large print of about 10 feet long. Three more Buddhas came over time and each left a footprint on the same spot, though each became smaller. Signs to get there all had pictures of a big foot with three smaller ones drawn in. The belief is that someday the final Buddha will arrive, step in the footprints and they will all shrink to normal size. I waited in line to see them and was humbled by the respect shown.
Buddha's footprints
At the Thai temples I have attended in the US, members would bring food each week to feed the monks with the remainder shared with everyone there.  Food was usually delicious and plentiful.  The same thing happened here.  The tents you see in the top photo were filled with people serving food they had made there or at home and were offering it free of charge to anyone who wanted it.  I had some delicious fried rice and a cabbage noodle soup. 
My new world has welcomed me with food, family and tradition.  I look forward to seeing more.


  1. roy, thank you so much for your blog entries. i have truly enjoyed reading them and happy to live vicariously through your enlightening experiences. i miss our conversations at The Spot Coffee shop. I hope to see you again someday and relive your experiences in good conversation.
    Marc from The Spot Coffee

  2. Hi Marc,
    It is great to hear from you and I am glad to know you are enjoying my blog. Thailand has been growing some great coffee, if you are interested. They often name it after the mountains, or doi, as they call it. Doi Wawee, Doi Chang, Doi Intanon. Very good coffee.