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Post 280: Wat Ban Rai .. Luang Phor Koon and the Waterfall

If I keep updating my Blog at this speed … it’ll make my track performance look positively blistering. So, a few things have happened and I’ll try to bring you almost up to date with this post……

Heading west along Highway 2, I found the village of Dan Khun Thot. As villages go, not so remarkable, but for a two-cow-town the temple is really quite stunning. For the people of Thailand, and more especially the people of Isan in North Eastern Thailand, Wat Ban Rai is one of their most important temples. The temple itself is really quite beautiful, but then so are many of the temples that you’ll find all across Thailand. However, this temple is most famous for being home to one of Thailand’s most revered Monks: Luang Phor, meaning ‘Revered Father‘, Koon, meaning ’Plentiful’, … Luang Phor Koon. Or, to use his Monk’s name, ‘Parisuttho‘. Luang Phor Koon is quite possibly the most powerful monk in Thailand today.

I had no idea that this was Luang Phor Koon’s Temple, but as the doors opened and the frail old Monk entered the Temple in front of me, it felt like Bobby Charlton had just run out onto the field as a half-time substitute for The Quakers. Apparently due to ill health and increasing age, personal appearances are quite rare and having an audience with this revered Monk is really quite a privilege. After praying for several minutes, he asked me to come forward and receive a blessing … which I did with some trepidation and he did with a long stick and a beaming smile. I honestly can’t say exactly what he said or did, but there is certainly something about this Monk that makes him very different to all of the others that I‘ve met.

After leaving Wat Ban Rai and talking to other Thai‘s, I’m suddenly ‘Mr Popular’ and everybody wants to touch me. Apparently for a Buddhist, meeting Luang Phor Koon is akin to a Roman Catholic having an audience with the Pope. Well, I am neither Buddhist nor Catholic, but he’s certainly left an unexplainable but lasting impression upon me.

Back in Nakhom Ratchasima, I attended first the funeral and then the cremation of the young lad who tragically died from cancer at the age of 13. From what I can understand, he and his friends had followed the parts of my Blog in 2008 that had been translated into Thai. I wont go into details because it was quite a moving and emotional experience but his family seemed to accept me as an honoured guest and I felt amazingly humbled by their warmth. One thing to understand about Thai funerals is that the coffin is only used for the cremation but the photograph used here is not too graphic.

On my journey along ‘Highway 2’, I came across what was described as a ‘Waterfall’ but in UK terms, was more of a natural lido. It was quiet, so I took a dip and cooled off. I couldn’t understand why the place was almost deserted and decided that to say ’Thank you’ to Aeg’s family before leaving Nakhom Ratchasima, I would take them back there at the weekend. I did, and it sure as hell wasn’t deserted at the weekend. Thailand and his Wife had turned up and it was great. The place was packed with happy people. Kids and adults just dived in and enjoyed themselves. No ’Warning Signs’ about hidden rocks or dangerous currents, just folks enjoying themselves in the way that we used to when we were kids and before Health and Safety was invented. I love their attitude. If you fall off a cliff and kill yourself here in Thailand, it’s not due to a lack of ’Warning Signs’, it’s because you were a bit of an idiot and didn’t take responsibility for your own actions. Nobody died, a few bumps and bruises here and there but everybody looked after everybody else and the Health & Safety Executives took a day off ….. mai pen rai

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