Thursday, April 23, 2009

Buddha Trio

The three most revered Buddha statues in Thailand can sometimes be found together as miniatures under a glass dome in Bangkok taxis. The images include the Emerald Buddha, the Buddha whose legend involves mysteriously floating downriver to a temple, and the bronze Buddha with the flame-like halo from Phitsanulok, one of Thailand's oldest cities. If the statuettes were based on their real proportions in relation to each other, the Emerald Buddha would be tiny compared to the Phitsanulok Buddha. But then they wouldn't look very good together under the dome as a three-piece set. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Turn it up!

Bangkok taxi drivers and Thais, in general, have two settings on their volume control: inaudible and ear-splitting. This must be cultural as Thais are usually soft-spoken, but at the same time, associate loud noise with having fun. The other day, the cabby cranked the volume so loud I thought the glass on Buddha's dome was going to shatter into pieces. And the music wasn't even opera.   

Friday, April 17, 2009

Green Aura

I've noticed lately that Buddha is often depicted with a green light or aura around his head. It's obvious that the illumination represents his enlightenment. But I've been curious about the significance of the green color, so I did some research and discovered that Buddha's green aura indicates that he's balanced, harmonious, and peaceful. Do you know the color of your aura?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wise Words

"In a controversy, the instant we feel anger
 we have already ceased striving for the truth, 
and have begun striving for ourselves."  
- Buddha

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's Songkran Festival in Thailand, the traditional Thai New Year and the biggest holiday of the year, when many people who live in Bangkok return to their homes in other provinces or head out of town on vacation.  Those that stay in the city will grab a squirt gun and take to the streets for one giant celebratory water fight.  If you want to stay dry longer, I suggest hopping in a cab.  But even the taxi will be "blessed" with water as you drive through the streets. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hello Kitty

In addition to the Thai goddess, Nang Gwak, who lures customers with her gesturing hand, Bangkok taxi drivers love the Japanese waving cat named Maneki Neko. Based on a real historical feline pet that lured a wealthy patron to a poor temple, this happy cat beckons customers with one paw and holds a gold coin to represent prosperity with the other paw. You might have seen this feline if you eat out at Asian restaurants. Or you might be familiar with the pink and white version of this cat known around the world as Hello Kitty.  

Monday, April 6, 2009

Plastic Monk

Welcome to the city of knock-offs. Here you can buy fake designer sunglasses for a fraction of the cost of real ones. You can even get cheap imitation plastic statues of Buddhist monks for your dashboard. Never mind that the religious icons don't seem as sacred and precious as the ones carved from wood or cast in metal. And the best part is that they're non-biodegradable and will last hundreds of years (that is, unless your statue melts in the sun first).