I decided to delve into Thai culture this week and partake in one of my favorite Thai customs, and that is visiting temples. As I was on holiday in Ko Samui at the time of writing, I just had to visit the famous Big Buddha in Bo Put. Luckily, I had my two mistresses – a pair of Canon 90D DSLR cameras – in tow.
Once you’ve parked up or exited your mode of transport, you’re faced with – as can be expected – a selection of stores and stands selling food, clothing and ornamental ware and various tourist type matter. This continues albeit to a lesser degree as you enter the temple.
To the left of the temple entrance are these grand statue displays of ancient mythical scenes depicted. They are impressive features and set the scene and mood for what is to come. I must add that – although as previously mentioned – there are plenty of stores offering their wares, this does not disrespect or hamper the atmosphere and ambience of the temple. It is balanced.
Upon entering the site, to the left are areas for donation to either support the monks or the welfare and maintenance of the temple structure itself. Further along is an area where you can meet a monk and be blessed (see photo below). This is something I love to do and if you are fortunate enough to go with a Thai, they can guide you into to buying goods and foods before arriving to give to the monks. Being blessed in exchange for an offering sits well with me.
To the right on the main steps are shrines for prayer. This side has a large golden laughing Buddha and several detailed and moving statues of real-life revered monks who have long since past.
“There is something that really touches me whenever I visit a Thai temple and the Big Buddha in Ko Samui is no different”.James Alexander, Farangbowl – Samui, Phuket.
Before ascending the steps, all visitors are expected to remove their footwear. It is important to follow some guidelines at Thai temples. Aside from removing footware, men are advised to wear shorts and a t-shirt – not vests or topless – and women are expected to arrive in shorts, trousers or long skirts. Short skirts are not permitted, and you will be asked to wear a sarong to wrap around yourself. Bare this in mind and be respectful, this includes keeping your voice down.
The grand stair bannisters are actual modelled depictions of the ‘Naga’ serpents from Hinduism. This Naga was a seven headed reptile that is said to represent protection. They look awesome and add to the grandeur of the ascent to the Buddha.
As you walk up the steps you do feel like you are about to see something special, and this removes any displeasure felt in the strenuous activity. There are a fair few steps here and it is not an incline that I would suggest anyone with walking difficulties attempt. Also remember you’ve got to come down again.
As I arrived at the top I took in the site of the statue and the surrounding platform. This statue is beautiful and stands around 100ft tool from the base of the platform. I’ve seen lot of temples during my time in this country and I have a good eye for the Buddha styles and faces. I’ve always felt that the Big Buddha here in Samui looked more Indian and Hindu that the other Thai faced Buddhas, and I’ve wondered why. The Hindu ‘Naga’ serpents on the stairs also leans toward a Hindu representation of the Buddha here. If anyone has an opinion on this, please give it the comments below. Surrounding the base of the Buddha are several other Buddha statues to include a sleeping Buddha where money has been left in return for good luck. There is also a monkey statue praying to a standing Buddha.
Surrounding the edge of the platform are a series of special bells. To each side of the platform is a pile of thick wooden sticks that you are invited to pick up and ring the bells with. You must make a prayer and bow before each bell and then ring it softly with a tap of a wooded stick. The sound of the ringing bells is calming.
There is something that really touches me whenever I visit a Thai temple and the Big Buddha in Ko Samui is no different. This place feels serene and given its location has some stunning vistas from the platform edges looking over the bays of Samui Island.
The Big Buddha in Ko Samui is a must visit for anyone travelling to or through the Island and will fail to disappoint. This is a great experience and way to spend an hour or two of your day.
Big Buddha – Ko Samui
Address: H3C5+7XV, Tambon Bo Put, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320 Thailand
Hours: 07:00 to 18:30
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/RxiMTvYJv2ETg4ca8
If you want to watch the filmed episode that supports this article then please go to the Farangbowl YouTube Channel or watch it in the media browser on this page below.