Monday, April 18, 2011

A Buddhist welcome

Posing for a photo with the worldly-wise head monk, Vichet, at Wat Bangry Chas
Whilst pottering around the Mekong Delta last October, particularly in the Khmer stronghold of Tra Vinh province, we had a noodle lunch at the stall of the entertaining Nu in the town of Tra Cu before heading out of town and on the hunt for some of the more interesting Khmer pagodas in the area. Our 1st port of call was Wat Bangry Chas and its impressively sized reclining Buddha, which was two years in the making and some 54 metres in length, making it the largest of its kind in Kampuchea Krom. Well, that was according to the 33 year old head monk, Vichet, who took Tim and myself into his residence for a cup of tea and a chin-wag. His English was remarkably good, and from the photographs displayed on the walls, its clear this go-ahead monk had travelled far and wide. His brightly painted main vihara was just four years old, he proudly announced and was the gift of some very wealthy local families, as was the concrete reclining Buddha currently under construction. He walked us through the vihara and then we climbed the rickety wooden ladder to inspect the Buddha at close quarters and try our hand at chipping away some of the concrete toenails of the enlightened one. As we found throughout our travels and in particular at the Khmer pagodas that we called into, the welcome we received far exceeded our expectations in this amazingly friendly part of the Mekong Delta.
The 54-metre reclining Buddha is a work in progress - the biggest in Kampuchea Krom
Letting the experts chip away at the toenails of the enlightened one
These two female workers simply never stopped giggling the whole time we were there
The lovely Nu at her noodle stall in the small town of Tra Cu, 35kms from Tra Vinh

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