Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

Say that 10 times fast!

A long, quiet morning at The Riverside guest house in Lampang. It’s actually beside the river Ping (which also runs through Chiang Mai). The brown expanse of the river, bounded by concrete in a weirdly LA-river way, I sat in the cool breeze and the indirect, but somehow perfected light, and listened to John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk and wrote. Perfection.

Then off to the in-renovation temple of (read the title, cuz I ain’t typing that again). Beautiful Buddhas. Many of the buildings are being rebuilt or refinished. The main temple is made of wood, pillars in the shape of lotuses hold up the roof. Ancient glass gilts the faces of the buildings.

In the back, there is a small cement building with high, uneven steps marked inelegantly, “No ladies please”. As the male representative, I ventured in. There was a large clay structure sunk into the floor, like one of the recesses that would hold a buddha on the outside of a cheddi, but this one was lying on its back with nothing in the recess. A white cotton sheet hung from the ceiling cut the room in half diagonally. Light from a knot in the door gleamed softly. I didn’t get it.

A Thai man and an Irishman came in together. The thai man shut the door much more firmly than I had. he held a stick over the hole. He sait, “wait, wait”, then, “this start 10 years past”, “miracle”. He uncovered the hole. Ah! Camera Obscura! An image of the cheddi with its golden top was projected upside down through the hole onto the cloth. The Irishman pedantically explained in English to me what the Thai man had explained in broken English. Hehe. I asked why no women were allowed. Was it what was buried in the floor? The Irishman didn’t speak Thai, but felt compelled to remind me that women weren’t allowed. Yes, thank you. Go raibh maith agat.

We met for lunch with an ancient elephant specialist. Slow time and elephant stories.

Back at the Riverside, we were surprised with getting to make wishes or prayers for our trip, and light Flying Lanterns and release them into the night. I have no idea how releasing flaming paper lanterns in an urban setting can be legal, but hey, it’s Thailand – everything must be pretty damp, right?

Off to the elephant center tomorrow.

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