…Wats Around Sichon. Part 1.
Yes. It’s been a while. A long while. The Covid situation here in Thailand is currently not as good as in most other countries.
I say “currently” because when the crisis began, the government acted swiftly, locked down the country, and cases were kept to a minimum. After that, some normality returned, but then the so-called Delta Variant arrived on the scene. I think the initial success must have lulled the health authorities into some sense of complacency, and as a result, large quantities of vaccines were not ordered. So, at the time of writing, only about 25% of the population has received one dose and something like 12% is fully vaccinated.
I’m still waiting for my first. I’m registered at the approved government website, but I think that was designed to do no more than give me a nice warm fuzzy feeling that someone actually cares. Do they? I doubt it. I’m estimating I might see my first needle somewhere around the end of the year.
Why do I tell you all this? Well, to help explain why I’m not travelling, and therefore not blogging. At my age I’m in a high risk group. So, I travel only when necessary, or when I feel I can go someplace that is completely safe.
As you will discover in the next few articles, I have visited several temples, or wats. If I happen to see someone there – which is rare – I can stay well away. I’ve done some aerial photography at deserted beaches (we have lots of those) and I threw in one tourist attraction, knowing I and a friend would probably be the only people there. We were.
So, I have enough material for six, maybe seven articles, which I hope to bash away at over the next few days. Let’s start with some wats…
Here in Khanom we’re in a bit of a backwater. It’s a small and quiet place. That’s what I like. But we only have a couple of attractive wats, which I’ve covered before. Sichon, is my closest real town. In, and around the town there are umpteen wats – where umpteen is a number between twenty and fifty. I haven’t counted. So, with a thirty to forty minute drive, I can visit most.
I’ll start with what I call CCWs. Cookie-cutter wats. All made from the same mould. Clean, bright, nicely painted, but hard to distinguish from the next one down the road. First up is…
Wat Manee Prasit…
It’s only a stone’s throw from highway 401, the only road you need to go north or south. And only a few kilometers from the center of Sichon. It’s attractive, in a typical tropical setting, and is perhaps a little out of the ordinary with its wagon wheel surrounding wall.
But it’s overall coloring is the usual white, red & gold.
The view from above is nice. You can just see the The Gulf of Thailand top right. Actually the aerial view is nicer than most because the concrete slab that the ubosot is built on is clean. Very often it’s not. But no one notices at ground level.
Wat Manee Pannaram…
It’s only about five kilometers down the 401 from Wat Manee Prasit.
Can you see the differences? It’s the same basic colors, but the wall is less ornate. And below, you can see the concrete base is a bit grubby.
But there’s a bigger difference … the corner stones. There are always eight surrounding the ubosot, or ordination hall. One at each corner, and one on each side. They mark the boundary, and anyone attending a ceremony is supposed to stand within that boundary so they are not attacked by evil spirits. My opinion on that is not printable.
But, you will see in the photo on the right, the tops of the markers contain two rather than the more normal one leaf-shaped stone; and they are covered with their own little huts. The stones in Thailand are usually known as Bai Sema. Bai being the Thai word for leaf. What you can’t see is the giant-sized stone balls which are buried below the leaf-shaped markers. These are subject to months of prayer and ceremony, and are often covered in gold leaf before burial. And there’s a ninth stone beneath the main altar of the ubosot.
Probably more than you wanted to know about wats. Let’s move on.