Temples of South East Asia
As we've said many times, we aren't temple worshippers. Therefore, we thought we would come up with a fun, potentially educational guide to temples and their surroundings. Shwedagon Paya
First things first; monks are cool. There's no denying this. We love a monk. They are pretty much always VIPs in SE Asia, and they reach heights hereto unbeknownst to most of us at their temples. So don't mess with them.
Guide to Temples 1. Basically the general structure fits into a couple of boxes; - Big tower-like thing with stuff around it. - Big building (4 walls and a roof, you know how it works) and a Buddha inside.
2. Buddhas, much like people, come in all shapes and sizes. This is important as other religions can give the indication that you are not holy unless you have a big beard, and sometimes a rather uncomfortable looking halo. Buddhism allows all sorts; tall, short, thin, fat, happy, sad, standing, sitting, reclining...the list may go on. -Side note: Buddhas love incense. If you're feeling flush you can bring some or buy some. It's always welcome!
3. Take yo shoes off. It's very rude to keep your shoes on. It's kind of like walking dog poo into your grandma's carpet. Not cool.
4. Cover yourself up, it's not a beach. General rule is long trousers/skirt for women and shorts past the knee for men. T-shirts work for both, but definitely not a strappy top for women. Men should never be wearing a strappy top, especially in public. Obviously, if you must be a fashion extrovert, then wear some crazy footwear. You have to take it off anyway, so go wild.
5. Temples are peaceful places, don't go running or shouting or setting up some kind of volleyball competition inside.
6. Despite the significance of temples, they are basically an excuse for locals to gather to rip-off tourists with a selection of nicknacks. Our advise is to avoid the smorgasbord of elephant print trousers outside and get them elsewhere. Save yourself the money and the hassle...you're welcome.
Temple Terminology Don't know your zedi from your hti? Your stupa from your pagoda? No worries, let us explain in lehmans terms;
Chedi or Zedi - large bell-shaped tower. Hti - Goes on top of the Chedi. Has bells on it, and kind of acts like a hat for the tower. Stupa - Basically the same as a Chedi. Pagoda - Please see Chedi above Buddha - The big guy. Most temples will have various Buddhas in different poses, at which people pray and make offerings. Wat or Vat - The local word for temple. Praang (Prang) - again, basically the same as a Chedi, but of Khmer origin...more phallic in appearance. Wihaan - Where the Buddha images are kept, and where people can make offerings. Basically the main hall of a temple.
A cracking time can be had at temples, one of our favourite things is to find some shade, and people watch. We find the following either amusing, or good at passing the time; Babies - always cute and often funny. Tourists from other countries - Japanese and Chinese are our favourites... they're so jokes. The one person who is shockingly and hilariously under-dressed. Also, those who somehow have 2 or 3 layers on in 40 degree heat...who are these freaks?
We have yet to come up with a composite index for rating temples. Maybe you could help us... What do you look for in a temple?
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