*Delayed post from my time in Thaton…
So, I think I went on a pilgrimage yesterday. Or maybe it was a spirit quest… You tell me.
I started the day really wanting to stay a little closer to home (I have a recommendation on a restaurant NOT to eat in in Thaton, in case anyone finds themselves there :)) but somehow found myself a 3 kilometer walks worth uphill in a sweaty, de-hydrated, exhausted puddle, pleading with the biggest Standing Buddha I’ve seen so far, slightly deliriously asking him to get me off this [insert your choice of adjectives here] hill. I called out to something bigger (and definitely taller) than myself and, in that moment, I think I really believed Standing Buddha would help me. That’s something right?
I mean, I found something to believe in after a long and trying journey, not without some form of suffering, however comedic and most definitely self-inflicted. Pilgrimage? Maybe? Spirit quest… Who knows?
But let’s back track. How did I get on this spiritual journey in the first place when a more sensible person would have read a book by the river until the coast was clear and it WASN’T high noon?
- Reason Number 1: I still haven’t mastered the sit still thing, … unless there’s a hammock apparently. And there was no hammock. So, I was hammock-less.
- Reason Number 2: We covered the non-restaurant recommendation reason. Stay close to home. This was close to home. (Number choice purely coincidental, I pinky swear).
- Reason Number 3: I had noticed a glimmer of something gold on a hill when I first got into town the day before and I was fixing to find out what it was. So, I needed to find the shiny object.
- Reason Number 4: I was going to see a temple. I like temples.. And temples also have toilets. It seemed safe AND interesting.
So, anyway. That’s how the journey came to be in a nutshell. The better questions are… would I do it again and should you?
ABSOLUTELY. Maybe pick a day when you feel 100% and bring a 3-liter camelback along with a bushel of fruit to eat but… It was wonderful. It’s not just a Wat/Temple. It’s a whole complex made up of 9 different levels with different things to explore on each level – Stupas, Temples, & Buddhas (oh my). The crown jewel, in this gal’s opinion, is the Stupa (I think that’s what it is) on Level 8 (only 1 kilometer walk, not too steep at all). It’s such an unusual building painted almost like a Tiffany’s egg… with a spiral ramp on the inside leading up to the most beautiful ceiling and place to pay respects.The ramp kind of felt like Thailand’s answer to New York’s Guggenheim museum… Only, and I say this with MUCH respect because I LOVE the Guggenheim and all thinks FLW,… It was even cooler.
See what I mean?
As for walking the two more kilometers past Kim’s crown jewel (let’s just let that one go, kay?) to Level 9… Go for it. Just stop more often than I did and try not to stubbornly run up all the hills because you think you can. The hills really aren’t bad at all for a normal person who’s not treating it like an endurance race.
There are even birds that cheer you on just when you think you can’t keep going – and they say “Hi”. True story. Like a nasally higher pitched, “hi-EE”. They were my mile 9 sign & my “fat-bottomed girl” moment (the song people, the song), cheering me on to get to the top.
As for the way down, so you know, the Standing Buddha DID deliver on my request… In a few ways actually…
1. I found water. Ladies came out and gave me water at least twice (maybe more,… some of this is a blur :-))
2. A really nice (though oddly stubborn) gentleman wouldn’t need let me keep walking without SEEING me put sunscreen on my face.
3. And two teenage boys stopped with about a kilometer to go to see if I wanted a ride down (Stubborn Kim wouldn’t let me take the ride… You can’t podium with a DNF and I was pretty sure I was the only one stupid enough to be IN this race.. So why wouldn’t I go for podium?. ;-))
Now back to the original question… Pilgrimage or spirit quest?
Well, I thought to check the temperature when I was back at my hotel, fully hydrated with 2 fruit shakes and a bottle of water…. WOWSAH. It was 38º/100º outside with a humidity of 48% when I was asking the Standing Buddha to help a brother out. Not one to complain about the heat but I’d say this definitely qualifies in my books as a trying journey… So pilgrimage works. But also seems a little sweat-lodgy… So spirit quest also fits… I suppose you all can decide. The only thing I really know is that if there was a podium, I was on it. This girl didn’t DNF.