26 January 2013
If you see a friend without a smile, give him one of yours
Cracks have wrinkled his face, rain has coloured his cheeks, mold has darkened his nose, the wind has chipped away his limbs. But the Buddha rests still, calm, imperturbable. Time inexorably vanishes, but his smile is eternally soothing.
I couldn’t resist taking quite a number of pictures of the Buddha from different angles in the historical park of Kamphaeng Phet, pronounced Camp-ang-pet and located in northern Thailand, an hour away from famous Sukhothai. There was something special in the cloudy air that morning when I met those two Buddha statues, in front of which lied another resting Buddha. Perhaps was it the absence of any tourist. Perhaps was it the reward of a peaceful setting after a one-kilometre walk from the bus terminal. Little did I know then that not finding a (functioning) bike to rent would lead me to walk a dozen kilometres – even if I did dare to knock on people’s doors, pointing at a random bicycle, simultaneously showing on my phone the Thai translation of the English sentence asking to rent the bike…
Kamphaeng Phet literally means ‘Diamond Wall’, a reference to the apparent strength of the old city’s protective barrier. Within the compounds of the old city inhabited monks of the Gamavasi sect (i.e. living in the community), as opposed to those of the Arannavasi sect (i.e. living in forests) who established themselves a kilometre north of the city walls. The temples in the forests are easily recognisable in the photos.
There’s often something that offsets a drawback (not finding a bike), even though I’m grumpy just as often for not being able to do what I had carefully planned (argh). That day, walking from the old city to the forest – and back – led me to cross a river twice, allowing me to take two pictures which I particularly like, one with the reflection of the massive tree and two wooden rafts on the shores of the river, the other with Thai people on those rafts.