High Tide at the Thai Temple
In Thailand, October and November is the end of the rainy season. The rivers and sea are at the highest levels which contributes greatly to the floods we are having at present. It doesn’t matter if it has been raining or not. Samut Prakan borders the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand and we are presently having regular floods with every high tide. I have written about Wat Khun Samut several times now. This is the temple on Cape Thunder that has become cut off from the mainland by the high tide. The only way to get there without getting your feet wet is by boat or the new raised concrete walkway. I visited Ban Khun Samut Chin last week and again this morning in order to volunteer as an English teacher in their school. These kids had never met foreigners before. I also took the opportunity to visit the temple again as this month sees some of the highest tides of the year. These apparently reached as high as 3.9 metres. In addition, the high tides are coming during the day which makes it so much easier to take pictures.
You may like to compare the above pictures with the ones I took when I went with Steve back in July. Back then there was only mud around these temples. But now there was at least one metre of sea water. This picture shows the back of the temple which is the only way you can enter at the moment. The top picture, with the Buddha image, was the old front entrance. The floor has been raised more than a meter which protects it from the highest of high tides. The doorways are so much shorter now so that the original teak doors cannot be used. The pedestal for the main Buddha image has also been raised on its concrete foundation.
A lot of work has been done since my last visit in September. Just before that, there had been a big fund-raising event which brought in a total of 400,000 baht for the temple. The governor of Samut Prakan was there as well as many people from Paknam. At the time I was under the impression that the money was going towards improving the sea wall. But, when I went back last week I saw that they now had a new kitchen and this new inner wall which you can see in the above picture. It is basically an expensive promenade which you will be able to walk along to enjoy the view. There are also seats for you to sit on and enjoy the sea breeze. All very nice but not helping that much. The sea water just goes around the sides which haven’t been completed yet.
The abbot of the temple proudly showed us around and he told me that 300,000 baht had been spent so far and a total of 1 million baht was needed to finish the job. I couldn’t help but think how this money could have helped the school or local community. But, I am sorry to say, Thai people believe they will make more merit if they give money to monks instead of needy causes. But, it is a nice promenade. As we walked around the perimeter, we came across these boats just arriving. Apparently they were bringing the rocks up from Ratchaburi. A trip that took them 13 hours! I guess it is good that the abbot is doing his best to protect his temple. And also striving to make it a peaceful place for people to come and enjoy the fresh air and also maybe to meditate. The abbot is certainly still very happy to show tourists around. But, I wonder if he realizes that once he finishes this moat around the temple, and the water is drained, then the temple will stop being a unique tourist attraction and will become just another temple.Will the tourists still come?
On 18th November 2007, there will be an important Kathin Ceremony at the temple. They are expecting hundreds of people for this fundraising event. People will also be giving new robes to the five resident monks. I will be there for sure and will be bringing you another report.