I had been walking past Wat Pho (or Po) going to and from my massage class and I finally got a chance after school one day to go into the temple and explore what's behind the white walls.
This is the oldest and largest wat in Bangkok and it also holds the record for the most images of Buddha. Wat Pho was the site of the first university in Thailand and remains a center for the study of Thai massage and traditional medicine.
There are chedi or pagodas creating a skyline of spires. Four enormous ones represent a reign of a different king. Chinese porcelain tiles cover the chedi forming ornate mosiac patterns and each one is different in detail and color.
The grounds have gardens and lots of statues including fierce guardians and peaceful little monks.
The most famous attraction of Wat Pho is the largest reclining Buddha in the world.
An impressive 46 meters long, the head alone is 15 meters high and towers above the visitors as they walk past.
The feet are also gigantic, 3 meters high for each foot and 5 meters long. I think I came up only to about the 4th toe on the bottom foot.
The toe pads were my favorite part. And the soles of the feet are inlaid with mother of pearl depicting the 108 auspicious signs of Buddha.
Here's the backside.
The walls of the rooms housing the Buddha are just as interesting as they are covered with paintings like this:
And along the wall opposite Buddha's backside is a long row of bowls. You drop a coin in each bowl for good luck so there's usually a rhythmic sound of change clinking as people walk by dropping half bahts in each one.
And I'm pleased to say that yesterday I passed my practical exam and am now certified in basic Thai massage. At the end of the 30 hour 5 day course, you perform a complete massage in front of an instructor and must finish in one hour. I tested with a group of young giggly Thai women and when we all passed, they were delighted when I did high fives with all of them.
I wonder if learning Thai massage is like learning Spanish...if I don't keep using it I'll probably forget it so I suppose I'll have to keep practicing on willing recipients. Any takers out there?