Alms bowls and blues, baby!!

Today i walked from Khao San road to Wat Saket and The Golden Mount . The view offered by climbing to the top of the spiral staircase of The Golden Mount is actually more impressive than the mount itself. It gives you a full 360 degree view of Bangkok, and is probably the only way you’ll be able to view the city from this height.
On your descent, shaded by mysterious gnarled trees, you’ll see past graves and pictures of ghostly looking residents.
Wat Tramit
I desperately needed to sit down by the time i got here : i’d walked the entire length of Thannon Chraoen Krung and not a single cafe in sight. There were hundreds upon hundreds of market stalls lining the edge of the road, but no-where i could rest my weary legs with a refreshing fruit shake and watch the world go by.
The main attraction of Wat Tramit is the 5.5 tonne solid gold buddha image, which is impressive. However, apart from that, there’s not a lot else to see, so i didn’t stop here for long before hailing a tuk tuk to Ban Bart (Monk’s Bowl Village)
Ban Bart
It’s more like a rather large yard rather than a village but very interesting all the same. It’s the residence of the only surviving family who remain faithful to the art of making traditional steel bart (alms bowls). The bowls are made of 8 seperate pieces of steel (with copper interwoven inbetween) which are said to represent the 8 spokes of the wheel of Dharma (which symbolise Buddhas eightfold path)
Community leader Hiran Suasriserm greeted me, showed me the finished product and how the bowls are made (each bowl takes 1 day to make; 2 days for larger bowls), and even let me help to bang one into shape! Aware that purchases of these bowls made by tourists, help to support the craft families and maintain a dying tradition in Thailand, i felt i had to buy one myself. The bowl is beautiful (or “swoi-ma” (phonetic spelling as the word was told to me by Hiran) in Thai) and worth every baht.
Spent a fantastic evening at Ad Here (jazz and blues bar recommended by Lonely Planet). To find it, exit Khao san Road (the police station end), turn right, carry on walking until you cross the bridge and then it’s on your left hand side. If you’re travelling alone (like me) and want to meet people then this is the place. It’s regularly packed out and a live band play nightly from 10pm until midnight. I got chatting to Lenka, who is originally from the UK but has been working on VSO projects throughout India and Thailand. I asked her about the country and the language (she can speak, in her words, enought Thai “to get by”) Learned an interseting, if bizarre fact from her : don’t try to order bananas from the market because if you say the Thai word for banana in the wrong tone, you’re actually saying “penis”, tee hee!!!
The band that played this eve were fronted by a large (in Thai terms) lady with a fantastic voice and because the band are regulars at this bar, she interacted with the crowd brilliantly. They did a wicked blues version of Elvis’s “Hound Dog”.
If you come to Bangkok, you have to pay this bar a visit : the atmosphere, the people, the music, the beer – all first class!
Photo is of me and Hiran making alms bowls at Ban Bart, Bangkok.
Note to self
Do not forget about the time and have a shower after sundown when there are open vents in the shower room. It was like a scene out of The Birds, only with mosquitoes!!! I’m stood there cowering under a towel in the corner trying to cover up as much of my body as possible to avoid being eaten alive. At the same time i’m wondering, “how the hell do i get out of here?” : I still had shampoo in my hair, the clothes i was washing were drowning with dead mosquitoes on the shower room floor, and my only exit was the door below the light where all the ba****ds, in their hundreds, were making a beeline for!
Now that i’ve managed to escape, my only worry now is how many bites i’ll wake up covered with in the morning. the one under my eye was bad enough and the swelling on that is only just beginning to subside . .
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