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Monday, January 9, 2012

Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)



It was early in the morning when we arrived by foot at the banks of Chao Phraya River and on the west bank, opposite from the small dock we're standing, the tall imposing prang of Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) stood proud and mightily against the blue skies. To get there, we had to cross the river aboard small passenger boats. We paid an elderly woman manning the seemingly unnoticeable ticket booth, the 3.00 Baht fare for each person. We arrived at the other side after a few minutes and the temple was just starting to open, we watched as the guards were lining up and getting ready to listen to the day's instructions from their commander. 

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Me and Ariadne were like the first two visitors of the day and we proceeded right away to pay the 50 Baht entrance fee so we could take advantage of having the whole Wat Arun complex to ourselves. I quickly saw the two giant statues which guards the Wat Arun. Like an old foe, I was quite familiar with those two who stands side by side with hands clasping a porcelain sword. I've seen them before in all those Thailand tourism posters. It was such a welcome feeling coming face to face with a known icon of the country. No swords were drawn between the three of us, fortunately for me. 

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Wat Arun is one of the most popular landmarks in Bangkok. It is consisted of a Khmer-style tower which  is surrounded by four shorter prangs. Named after the Indian God of Dawn, Aruna - it has since called as "temple of the dawn" also because the first light of dawn produces a magnificent effect on the temple's surface, potruding with magical-like changes of colors that glitters beyond the normal.

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Chinese porcelains engulfs much of the temple's exterior with patches of mosaic designs and carvings, that makes it unique from the other temples I've seen. I climbed up the steep steps for a better look at the surrounding scenery. From a distance I saw the Grand Palace and the calm waters of Chao Phraya river. The sun was already way up the sky and the way it does, directing its light perfectly towards the clear blue skies, makes the scene around me locks up a very vivid image.

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I went around and marveled at the details of the temple's designs. The intricate patterns shows elephants, warriors in varying appearances and a wonderful contrasting colors of each sections from one another. I stayed for a few minutes at the balcony of the center prang and again, taking a short moment to appreciate the little breaks I had in life, in order for me to end up places such as this.

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Wat Arun was almost abandoned and left to ruins after it was moved from the Grand Palace grounds, located across the river to its current location. King Rama II ordered its restoration in the early 1800's paving the way for the construction of the highest prang and its four surrounding prangs. Life is all about restoration anyway, the more you see, the more you experience tends to ignite that resolve to construct whatever broken down machinations in your self. In my case, I find it with traveling, therefore I came to realize that, just like Wat Arun, anything can still be salvaged. For good and better.

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We stayed there for a little bit more than an hour. I tried hard to really stare at each detail, as long as I could to generate a lasting space on my memory vault. Each patches of porcelain patterns, sculptured statues, wall carvings were all made with passion and dedication of people from long way back. It was like a book with invisible words and hidden stories waiting to be read. I could not accurately read it, but sure do acknowledge the determination to erect such structures, that helps further enrich and expand the reach of their faith.

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We may have missed the sunset - by an hour, but I'm glad that we crossed the Chao Phraya river to see the Wat Arun. As I went down the steep and small steps, I reckoned to myself "If only the top of the corporate world is this beautiful, then..." Its a wishful thinking that would never become a reality, until then, further incursions to many places, historic landmarks, houses of different faiths and all, I will continue to explore, learn and see for myself the many footprints and hand-prints of past generations and civilizations.

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As we boarded the small ferry boat back to the other side of Chao Phraya River, the stillness of the water was like a mirror of what I was feeling that moment. Still and alive, quiet and smooth, peaceful and just at the right level. This, after a historic flooding burst the waters of the river to record overflowing level. Just like that moment, in the midst of chaos, I was there sitting on a small ferry, contented and wanting nothing else but to continue these kinds of journeys.

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