Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monk Bar Mitzvah

Hannah and I returned to Phetchaburi and had the day to sight see before catching a train to Bangkok. Phetchaburi is a city known for its many Wats (temples) so we started to do a walking tour, on our own, of the city. After living in Southeast Asia for quite some time already, Wats don't really get me that excited. Sure there are some amazing ones but after a while it's like looking at churches in Europe -- they all start to blend.

However, this day turned out to be pretty memorable. At our first stop on the temples tour, we spotted something very strange -- a bloody hand print on a temple wall. There was no explanation for this bloody hand print and nobody seemed to be bothered by it. Hannah and I just stared at it, awkwardly laughed at the oddity of it, and then catalogued it as Mystery #1 in Thailand.

(PICTURE: Mystery #1 on our trip.)

After the temple now known as the "Bloody Hand Print Temple", Hannah and I crossed the street to another temple. I heard some music playing in the distance and followed the noise. I walked into a large room and found about eight people playing various musical instruments. I continued to walk around the inside of the building until I came to a monk barbershop. A couple of teenagers and one young kid were getting their head shaved.

The monks offered to shave my head, and although this would have been a great blog entry, I decided to decline for two reasons: 1. My curly hair is a big hit in Asia. 2. The monks didn't appear to be changing razor blades.

It turned out that one of the teenagers who was getting his head shaved was there for more than just a haircut. I don't know exactly what the ceremony was but it appeared to be some kind of Bar Mitzvah/Communion. The kid's mother invited us to join their family for food and well, the Augusts never turn down free food!
(PICTURE: Hannah with our new friends.)

You might notice in the above picture that the little girl is wearing a Playboy t-shirt. Although this seems highly inappropriate to be wearing a Playboy shirt in a religious place, this is actually kind of normal. Playboy, from my observations, is seen as a symbol of beauty here and not pornography.

After lunch the kids in the picture invited us to come listen to some music with them. We went back into the temple and sat on the periphery of a drum circle. The afternoon ended with me chugging a Red Bull with all the musicians...although weirdly I was the only one who chugged mine.