About five years ago the BBC had a story about an image of David Beckham that could be found at a Thai temple in Bangkok. It was never the easiest of temples to reach, but since they opened the BRT bus route it is now very convenient to go to this temple as it is right next to BRT Wat Pariwat. You walk down a lane until you reach the main buildings. I asked a nun if this was the right temple for David Beckham but she had never heard of him. Obviously she doesn’t watch English football. But, she took me to a monk who does!
The monk confirmed to me that Wat Pariwat was indeed the famous David Beckham temple. However, he said in the last few years hardly anyone has come to see the image of the footballer. The building with the blue roof is normally locked but he asked someone to go and open it for me. This is the main Buddha shrine inside the chapel. It is easier to find it open on “wan phra” days which are the Buddhist holy days which coincide with the phases of the moon. If you find it locked then they don’t mind opening it for you.
To the right of the Buddha image in the far corner you will find that one of the images decorating the base to be very familiar. It is indeed the famous English footballer David Beckham! It is also worth visiting around the back of the temple alongside the Chao Phraya river. I was told that this is a popular location in the evenings where people come to eat and also feed the fish. The people there were really kind to me and gave me a free iced fruit drink! Obviously not many foreigners come here. But, maybe this will change soon.
Samui is a popular destination for foreign tourists who go there for the sun, sea and surf. But, there is also something there that reminds us that we are not permanent fixtures on this planet. In Buddhism, people are taught about the impermanence of life which is why sometimes you might see corpses at Thai temples. They act as a reminder. A macabre example of this can be seen at Wat Kunaram, towards the south of Koh Samui.
Luang Pho Daeng used to be the abbot of Wat Kunaram. He used to be a happily married man with children. But, when he was 50, he decided to devote the remainder of his life to the monkhood. He ordained in 1944 and became well known for his meditation techniques. As a result he had many followers. When he reached the age of 79, he knew he was soon to die and so decided to sit and meditate until the end. He died a short while later in 1973.
Apparently it was his own wish for his body to be kept in this upright position. As you can see, his body is remarkable well-preserved considering that he died nearly 40 years ago. There is even some hair on his head. I am told that he is wearing sunglasses as his eye balls fell back into his skull some years ago. You are allowed to take pictures at this temple, but please do so in a respectful manner.
To commemorate the 175th anniversary of Wat Bowon Niwet Wihan and the completion of its major restoration work, the temple recently organized a temple fair. Wat Bowon Niwet Wihan, in Bangkok’s Bang Lamphu area, was open daily for the general public to pay their respects to the important Buddha statue and nine sacred landmarks.
Wat Bowon Niwet is located on Phra Sumen Road in the Bang Lamphu area. Built in 1829, it is the shrine-hall of Phra Phuttha Chinnasee, a very beautiful Buddha image which was molded in about 1357. This is one of the most important temples of Bangkok, whose one-time chief abbot was King Rama IV before he ascended the throne. King Rama IV and King Rama VII, as well as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej had resided here during their monkhood.