I am contemplating the serene smile on the 2.5-metre-wide delicate face of the golden reclining Buddha. I try to step back in the finely decorated chapel to take it all in. The whole figure is 46 metres in length and 15 metres in height. It is one of the largest Buddhas of Thailand, here in Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, in the heart of Bangkok and it is truly majestic.
The size of the brick and plaster sculpture all covered in gold is impressive and contrasts with the simplicity of His facial expression when entering into Nirvana at the end of all His reincarnations. It is silent, but for the noise of coins dropping. While I go around the soles of His 5-by-3-metre feet delicately inlaid with mother-of-pearl, I see the 108 bowls aligned along His back. They represent the 108 good characters of Buddha. Worshipers drop a coin in each one of these bronze bowls for good fortune.
If this gigantic reclining Buddha is the highlight of any visit to Wat Pho, I wander on the temple grounds. My attention is drawn towards chanting of monks. Bare feet, I enter the most sacred temple where the humming sounds are coming from, and I sit by the monks for the evening prayer. Sitting in an awkward position to make sure that my soles are not pointing towards the central Buddha nor the monks, I notice my limps getting numb.
Ironically, this very spot is the birthplace of Thai Massage which is still taught and practiced on the temple grounds. In admiration I look at the monks who seem to be at ease in this position and I realise it is time for me to move on. It is already getting dark outside when I leave the beautifully lit temple behind me.
Marcella & Claire
- Wat Pho is the house of the largest collection of Buddha images in the country.
- Wat Pho has been recognised as an UNESCO world heritage site for its illustrations and inscriptions.
- For the massage school, refer to its website.
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!