Monday, January 27, 2014


All three countries we have visited so far have Buddhist temples, monks, and certain observances.  But Buddhism does not really feel the same in any of them.

In Japan, the temples looked like slight alterations of Shinto shrines; a threshold gate, a sacred altar with statues, and those really familiar Japanese roofs.  In Cambodia, they look like a stand of shiny little golden tinsel trees in front of stone Buddha statues, wearing a gold cloth apron.  In Thailand, they look like a golden Buddha statue standing inside mini royal palace. 

In Japan, the monks wore in white.  In Cambodia, orange with a parasol and in barefeet   In Thailand, also orange (we saw one with sandals and orange socks).  The Bangkok subway even has a sticker depicting the four kinds of people you should give up your seat to:  the elderly, disabled, pregnant, and monks.

Buddhism, for a religion that is built on giving up desire and not forcing yourself on others, seems somewhat pushy in Cambodia.  Lots of Angkor temples have statues inside with caretakers encouraging you to take their incense and pray.  It may or may not have been just a way to make money.  Japan's temples were far less aggressive with their sales pitch.  Thailand's Buddhist temples remain to be experienced.  But I don't know how much we will get to see of these, since we are off to the northern hills.  For the next three days we will be bamboo rafting and riding elephants and staying in villages north of Chiang Mai.  Back to the blog from Myanmar, most likely.  Josh's Angkor Wat posts are awaiting better internet so we can post pictures.  Stay tuned.

(Post by Hammad)

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