Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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Buddhism is by far the dominant religion in Thailand, and as such Bangkok is equipped with a huge array of Buddhist temples, large and small. On one hand it's odd to be walking through a modern, bustling city and stumble upon an ancient and ornate temple, but on the other is it so different than the churches scattered throughout any Western city? Maybe it's due to a lifetime of seeing Asian temples only in the context of an old kung-fu movie set a thousand years prior. I mean, I've seen Catholic churches my whole life, but it's rare to see a seated Buddha statue surrounded by electric candles, tucked between a CD stand and an electronics store.

My completely undirected wandering led me straight to a museum of traditional boats used by Thai royalty, past and present. I arrive right before closing and pay my small admission fee, exploring the half-submerged showroom all to myself. It's right on the water with the boats ready to be deployed in a moment's notice, which seems like a strange arrangement for a museum that presumably seeks to preserve historical antiques (and thus presumably does not intend to float the boats again). A large, sunken gate locks in the boats from the river just outside, and two relaxed guards sit listening to the radio while gazing out over the river.
Though the temples appear more or less equally ancient, there apparently is some room for development because behind one of the temples is another one, smaller and abandoned and ignored in favor of its more opulent and well-maintained brother immediately behind me as I take the picture. It's odd to see such a relic left to rot with neglect, when anything over fifty years old in the US is a national treasure.

Copyright 2021 - David Barrett -