Temple trip

23 07 2011

One of the most fun things to do in Bangkok is spend a leisurely day taxi-hopping through the outer suburbs, past lotus flowers growing in ditches and rice fields, stopping for lunch in gleaming megamalls and visiting the obscure and often compelling attractions that ring the city, far from the usual tourist beat.

I did this the other day, taking a leisurely slice-of-Bangkok-life tour to the very edge of the metropolis and stopping at four interesting temples on the way.

The first, Wat Phasi, is fairly centrally located in Ekamai. I had been to the temple before and it was already one of my BKK favourites; with its unusual Indian-inspired architecture and coloured banners, shrines, a pen of sacred white zebu and the sounds of children playing at the local temple school.

The first time around though I had missed this; the shrine to the last man beheaded in Thailand, Boonpeng Heep Lek. He killed his own mother and was publicly executed on the temple grounds in 1919. Today, the shrine is a popular spot for worshippers who come to pray for good luck (given how unlucky he was in being the final head chopped , why should they assume he has any to spare??)

From there it was a long haul down the Ram Inthra expressway to my second stop, the Leopard Shrine at Ram Inthra 67 where a tiger spirit (despite the name) is enthroned on a roadside altar and surrounded by concrete statues of tigers and zebras left as tributes. There are so many that they have to be periodically cleared away and are dumped as landfill in the vacant plot next door.

From here I hailed another cab to a temple little known even within Bangkok, despite its five-storey tall golden statue of Shiva. It is located on soi 27 of Ram Inthra 71. The trip there down the meandering side soi took me right out into the country, until finally the temple appeared looking out over a green tropical swamp in a semi-rural settlement at the edge of town.

From here though it was another hour to the very edge of the (nominal) Bangkok city limits, to an area few taxis passed. Here though was the highlight of the day, the amazingly gaudy and gruesome Wat Phuet Udom with its “Hell Garden” depicting in crude concrete the various punishments to be visited on sinners in the underworld. Also there were all manner of mythological beats, deities riding rats and rabbits, a disused helicopter (!) and a dank, humid, underground “house of horrors” under the temple proper where yet more hellish visions came to life – plus teenage mutant ninja turtles!




One response

5 02 2012
The ghosts of airports past « ilbonito blog 2007

[…] Bangkok is full of bizarre, occult sites – strange temples with unexpected caves or pits of snapping crocodiles, or bizarre statues (golden David Beckham, Teenage Mutant Turtles in Hell…) […]

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