Home to the Golden Mount
Published/Last edited or updated: 27th August, 2017
For the better part of two centuries, the Golden Mount at Wat Saket has glistened high above the old quarter. The ancient temple’s shocking history and panoramic vistas make it one of our favourite attractions in Bangkok.
Dead bodies would pile up at Wat Saket, especially during one of several cholera outbreaks, the worst of which claimed the lives of one in every 10 residents of Bangkok. The book Buddha in the Jungle by Tiyavanich quotes a Norwegian spectator in 1880: “The birds tore the body most dreadfully, sometimes actually lifting it off the ground, and fighting among themselves as one or another dragged off a piece of flesh. Once, a dog sneaked in and secured a morsel”.
As ghastly as Westerners found all of this, the Siamese believed that deciding before death to nourish animals would gain them a little extra merit towards a fortunate rebirth. Viewing and contemplating the blunt ceremony was also viewed as a potentially transformative practice for monks keen to pierce into Buddhist ideals of impermanence and non-self. While the vultures are now long gone, statues of them are depicted eagerly honing in on ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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