I’ve been living in Thailand for roughly 7 of the last 9 months and I still look at men wearing trousers in this heat with great awe. It’s probably similar to the feeling people must have had when they first saw moving pictures or found out that The Bee Gees were men.
I have a few goals in life, I wont go into them here (one of them is to eat an entire box of Coco-Pops in one sitting) but one of them is to one day, maybe, be able to go outside in Thailand whilst wearing jeans and feel ‘ok’. I thought that day had arrived last week when the sky was grey and the scent of rain was in the air.
I talked to myself in the mirror like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver but if he had a chest infection that made him a lot weaker, ‘Are you wearing jeans today…? Are you wearing jeans today…? I don’t see any other garments on your legs’. If I didn’t try it today, then how long until my next chance? It’s not that I want to wear trousers but I want to know I can…I don’t know, let’s not examine this point for too long.
I made my way outside and felt good, no sweat was forming and my shins were almost giddy with the excitement of have material rubbing against them. I made it into a taxi safely and I was on my way to the Golden Mount. Now, the Golden Mount could sound like it was a sexual innuendo…but it isn’t, I don’t do sexual innuendo’s on this page as I find it really hard to fit them in and I don’t want to just bang away only for them to come up short.
The Golden Mount is a temple on top of a small hill…yeah the sexual innuendo sounded better didn’t it? Sorry about that, but you’re here now and you’re committed to reading so hang on in there….don’t go soft on me.
The exact date of the temple is unknown but Wat Saket, as it’s also known, was completed sometime during the Ayutthaya period which lasted from 1350 to 1767 and resides on what is actually a man-made structure of mud and bricks. Over the years weeds, plants and the elements all combined to give the hill a natural look which is what I saw the moment I stepped out of the taxi.
It was love at first sight…
Other than the temple at the top, I was also struck by the wall and what appeared to be doorways that were closed off. After painstaking and incredibly time consuming historical research like Indiana Jones with tetanus, I discovered that what you see at the bottom of the mount is actually a cemetery. History shows that during the 18th century a plague fell upon the city and many of its inhabitants (some estimates say 60,000) were taken and dumped at the base of this temple for cremation.
I began making my way around the base of the mount feeling my excitement build as to what lay at the top.
‘Yes, it will look amazing at the top’, I though to myself…and then it dawned on me…’the top…TOP…T.O.P’ (I hope this doesn’t come across as me showing off my spelling prowess). Now, don’t judge me but for some reason I hadn’t factored the possibility of walking up a mount with jeans on despite the word ‘Mount’ being in the name. It’s not that I thought the monks may have considered sweaty British men and the problems they may have walking up a mount by installing a lift…I…just didn’t think at all before leaving my apartment.
Despite the grey clouds overhead I instantly felt the temperature rise…did someone open an oven door around here? Has someone placed coal embers in my pants? I made my way further around the mount looking for a sign that said ‘Lift’ but sadly it never came and eventually I was met with this sign instead…
This meant that I would have to lift my jean wrapped legs 344 times to reach the top…things were about to get sweaty. I don’t know what the Thai writing underneath translates to but I am guessing it says, ‘If you are wearing jeans, turn around now!’ But I wasn’t going to let 344 steps and the possibility of wet underpants deter me from completing my mission and to acclimatize to the Thai weather. I steeled myself and said a short prayer to the goddess of sweating ‘Lynx’ and asked for her to help my armpits, neck, head, face, inner things, crotch, arse, shins, back and ears stay dry…
The walk began ok and maybe Lynx had heard my prayers and I almost enjoyed some of the ornaments that adorned the walls on the way to the top…
I was enjoying the walk but I after a while I could feel the sweat start to form on the top of my head, beads of wet gloss were starting to exit from the pores on my thighs…but it was fine, I was…fine. I actually used to hate sweating during the hot weather in the UK but you can’t really come to a hot country to live and then complain about it being hot, that would be like those British people who went and live in Spain and then voted for Brexit – utter morons. I have begun to embrace the sweat. This doesn’t mean I want to drench myself every time I step foot out of the house but it means I have begun to let go of moaning about it constantly (Yes, I am an absolute modern day hero).
How can a statue be more suitably dressed than me?
Still, despite the wet patch forming around my crotch and my legs feeling sweater than a block of cheese at a Lady Gaga concert, at least I didn’t have far to go now…
By the time I’d reached the top of the mount, Lynx had not only left the building, she had locked all the doors, tuned the lights off and taken her phone of the hook. I was soaking but…and this will maybe surprise you, I didn’t care, I was dripping and I was embracing it. So what if I sweat? It’s hot and I have a shower at home…I can think of worse things that could be happening to me (I can’t at the moment but you get my point).
And then their was the view to enjoy…
The flags kind of get in the way and I was going to complain to a monk I saw walking by but I thought I’d let it pass for today (and then maybe write a strongly worded letter to the relevent authorities when I had got home and after I’d had a long cold shower).
I know I joke about these things, I want this blog to be funny, but sometimes I want to be serious and I have to say, every temple I visit in Thailand blows me away and gives me something different from any of the others I’ve seen previously. The Golden Mount was no different. I can see why people can become very religious in moments like this. There is something spiritual in temples in Thailand, they’re calming and so beautiful and more important than all of that, they make me forget that I am sweating – that must be some kind of miracle!!
It’s not only the sight’s that you can see here that make every experience to a Thai temple special, it’s also the sound, the small bells that you can see in the photo above twinkling in the breeze (not an innuendo), the monks chanting and praying, going about their normal day, the smell of burning incense which goes hand in hand with any visit to a temple. Its not just the sights that overload your senses, its everything, your eyes, your nose and your ears are all hit by beauty. I may be tired as I write this but these places really move me, you’d be dead inside if you felt unmoved by it all.
Come to Thailand. Yes the beaches have soft white sand, the water is clear blue and the islands have stunning scenery but for me it’s the temples that will live longest in the memory.