The day started early, around 5:30 AM. It rained, and there was no sight of sunshine. I loved the weather. Our team led by Toy headed to a Traditional Tai Guan house to prepare food for monks. Almsgiving ceremony is a custom in many SE Asian countries, where Buddhist monks seek alms early in the morning before arriving at their temples. Locals give whatever they can and seek blessings of these monks.
I loved the first sight of a Tai Guan house on wooden stilts. We headed into this beautiful wooden house, which has been very well preserved and reflects their culture. The family guided us to prepare the dish in traditional style, which I enjoyed. It has been a pleasure to experience new things every day - one of the perks of travel that I love. After touring the house, it was time to meet the holy monks.
Despite traveling in SE Asia extensively, I had never witnessed the almsgiving ceremony. The reason - I am not a morning person! Yup, I just find it too hard to wake up too early as I am a super night owl. Okay, getting back to the day, I had finally the chance to not only witness it but also be a part of this ritual, which made me very happy. After getting the blessings of the monk, we headed to Wat Srimongkol for prayers in the assembly hall.
Monks are supposed to have any solid foods before 11:30 AM every day. After that, they only consume liquids throughout the day. This custom differs slightly for monks elsewhere, but here that's what they practice. People from all households in the village gather to prepare food for their lunch in the temple. It is a chance for the community to socialize as well as contribute, and according to Buddhism, these acts of service bring them merit.
We met people who were cooking and helped them a bit to arrange food. Then prayers followed, and later we offered monks the lunch. Then, it was time to learn to make bouquets. Elderly women make beautiful bouquets from Pandan and Banana leaves adorned with flowers. These are used in ceremonies, gatherings and special occasions. I learnt to make from the scratch - the techniques of folding leaves, arranging them and finally decorating them. It felt like going back to my childhood days of attending crafts class in school. I thoroughly enjoyed amidst translated conversations and gestures filled with fun and laughter. Language isn't really a barrier to bond or to connect with people anywhere - another thing that travel keeps teaching me.
I learnt to make Thai Papaya Salad from one of the women as well. Now I know the recipe of this delicious cuisine of Thailand, one of my favourites among Thai food. We had our lunch in the temple with the locals and headed off for our next and last temple - Wat Maruka Nakhon.
Exploring Wat Maruka Nakhon
The grandeur, elegance and the lovely architecture of this white and golden temple instantly reminded me of the temples in Luang Prabang in Laos. Bordering Laos, the influence of their architecture in this temple is very evident. The temple consists of a tall stupa surrounded by golden Nagas or serpents on the four corners. Inside there are beautiful statues of golden Buddhas. What I loved most are the amazingly decorated walls of the interiors - beautiful carvings painted in gold and dotted with white, blue and golden stones.
Rafting in Bung Huak River
The best part was probably saved for the last. It was time for some soft adventure. I loved the continued great weather with gentle drizzle coupled with cold air and gorgeous lush green fields. We got on large bamboo planks. I got nervous and hopped on to another boat initially. After enjoying some time, I changed boats to the planks. It felt great - With the surrounding forests looking more vibrant and sound of the river flowing to meet its big brother the Mekong and a great company. We had fun talking, laughing and lying down on the plank to relax.
It was another great day in Nathon Village, getting to know experience and of course, have fun!