I had to go to Surat Thani (again!) yesterday – to renew my car rental deal (again!) for the Honda Shitty. This is getting tedious, and expensive. But…
I’m convinced there is a good reason why, in Thailand, everything is fifty times more complicated than it needs to be. I just haven’t yet figured out what that good reason is, nor any reason for that matter. But I’m working on it. It stops me from getting mad and going mad.
You may recall the length of time it took me to order my Ford Ranger. Well, once ordered, it was promised for “sometime in the first two weeks of October, and definitely by the fifteenth.” It arrived about three weeks ago! I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m betting it doesn’t have the extras I ordered. I haven’t decided how I will react when I discover this, but I suspect it will be an inappropriate way for Thailand.
In the meantime, there are several kilometers of paperwork that have to be pulled together – which involves my landlord, the local city, immigration, the road transport department … and possibly the police, who may decide to check that I actually live where I say I live. Do people really give a false address when they buy a car? Maybe. But, my building impatience is going to hinder, not help this process.
Anyhoo, after doing the rental renewal thingy, I headed north to seek out a wat I’d missed last week when I realized I was in danger of not getting home by beer o’clock.
Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram, which to save your tongue getting tied up in knots can be reduced to Wat Suanmok, is recommended in most guidebooks and websites as a place to see when in the Surat Thani area.
I beg to differ. If it was the only wat you’d ever seen, you might be impressed. But having visited maybe close to a hundred, I was very much underwhelmed.
It’s big. It’s on a huge piece of land, well, it’s in its own park really. But its main claim to fame is as a Buddhist meditation center, with monthly retreats. It seems anyone can participate from the first to the tenth of any month. There is a small fee for the teaching, food and accommodation, but so small you wouldn’t notice.
What you probably would notice is the absence of any home comforts. Attendees are required to maintain complete silence, eat only a vegetarian meal early morning and before noon, and survive the rest of the day on one nice cuppa tea! I doubt my stomach would maintain complete silence, even if I could!
To add to the fun, it’s lights out at 9:30pm, when you have the privilege of sleeping on a wooden bed with a wooden pillow; after which you are helpfully woken at 4am. I think I’d still be awake, wondering how the hell anyone can actually sleep on a wooden pillow.
Anyways, the place is very popular, so I guess I’m the odd one out.
But, as I say, if you’re in the area and looking for some place to visit, Wat Suanmok is probably not the place to go. At least I found one honest tourist website which said “Apart from its splendid setting, the temple itself is somewhat ordinary.” Hear hear.
Here’s some photos for you. As always, just click on the thumbnail to see the full-sized image.
Postscript April 6th., 2016:
Despite consulting several web pages, it looks like I was at the wrong wat!
If you’d like to find the correct one, please consult the map on the right.
I was a couple of kilometers away from here. I’ll be using this map to find the real Wat Suan Mok real soon.