It was our first foray out of the resort complex and within a few minutes walk we came across an enormous statue of Hanuman up some dragon guarded steps from the road.
Naturally we had to take a look and were welcomed by a very jolly monk who invited us in to his very far from finished temple.
After lighting the candles before the altar (is that what they call it?) we squatted down on the concrete floor. The monk plied us with various clay trinkets depicting Buddhist figures and then he put a wrist band of yellow cotton on each of us.
We chatted as best we could, given that his English was limited and our Thai non-existent, but learned that had been a wild lad in his youth (women, whiskey – usual sort of thing) but had seen the light and become a monk fourteen years ago.
It seems he had been given the task of completing this side temple which at the moment is nothing more than a breeze block shell filled with bags and cardboard boxes of provisions donated by the locals.
The conversation turned to the cost of living in the UK – how much does a house cost, how much do we spend a month etc – which was a bit of a strain on our mental arithmetic as we totted things up then converting it into baht.
I see now that this was a way of getting finances into some sort of perspective. We had intended to make a donation to the temple, but when Mrs P proffered 100฿ he looked rather disappointed so we quickly upped our offer to 1,000฿ which cheered him up immensely.
The note was slipped inside an offertory envelope with both our names and address filled in on the front before I place it on the altar. More gifts were given to us – bananas, papaya and a wrapped snack that looked not unlike an eccles cake – and we said our farewells.
I’ve visited the monk since to get the photo above and learned that his name is Yuan, or at least that’s my best attempt at the spelling.
Like the other Buddhist monks we’ve met, he does seem very jolly and worldly in a detached sort of way and I do wish him well with his building project. No doubt I will see him again, if only to get a photo of the Hanuman statue which really needs a deep blue sky behind it to show it off to best effect, and put another note in the collection plate.
* Hanuman statue photo now added!