Sunday, July 22, 2007

Visit to Thailand, July 1-15, 2007

I visited Thailand from July 1 to 15, 2007, after my sojourn in Europe. Thanks to the Thai confreres (especially Frs. Joe Apisit and David Jieng) I was able to visit quite a number of Redemptorist communities throughout Thailand.
The afternoon of the day I arrived in Thailand, Fr. Joe and I took the flight to Ubon Thani in the northeast. There, Fr. Cook (0ne of the Thai alumni of the St. Alphonsus Theologate in Davao) took charge of my visit in the Nong Khai area where I spent four days.
First visit that Cook arranged was to Salakeaw-koo, a Hindu-Buddhist temple just outside Nong Khai.

Salakeaw-koo has become a tourist spot in this part of Thailand because of the interesting cement-stone sculptures depicting the various Hindu gods and goddesses sculpted only in the last few decades since a "Hindu monk" from Burma arrived in this place. The complex of temples and statues is quite controversial owing to some questions raised by the local police (which have been resolved lately). It is not a typical "monastery" as there are no monks who reside in this place. But the "relics" of the founder can be viewed in the main "temple". Picture below: Cook and I in front of the monastery complex.

A number of giant sculptures of the standing Buddha in the grounds of this monastery complex which is the equivalent of a three-storey building. All sculptures here were made by local artists.

Before leaving the temple, we were asked to hit the gong as a sign of a good visit to the temple and our departure.

Above is the parish church
of the CSsRs in Nong Khai.

The tall building is the former Novitiate in Nong Khai, which is now the site of the Postulancy program since the Thai novices go to Lipa for the joint novitiate. The shorter building, also with the blue roof is part of the convent.

One of the shrines of the Buddhist temple which is located across the Redemptorist compound in Nong Khai. Below are photos of the temple and the arch also in this compound. There are monks stationed in this complex.


Scenes from another temple Cook and I visited near the open market near the Mekong River (separating Thailand and Laos).

The city of Chang Mai as seen from on top of the hill outside the city.

Images of the Buddhist monastery complex in Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep on top of a hill just outside the city of Chang Mai.

Thai bhats (currency) serve as part of decorations inside one of the temples.

Candles, incense and flowers symbolize the Thai Buddhist people's popular religious belief system. Here devotees offer these symbols to Buddha.

The center of the monastery complex.

The green emerald Buddha which is in one of the side temples.

(Note to the reader: There seems to be a problem I am encountering in writing captions to the photos. So for the moment I will just offer a short description of the sets of photos that you will be seeing:
1. The photos showing wood carvings are those in the Museum of Ngarn Anurak Pueh Muan Chon.

2. The photos showing kids operating a mill, a dormitory school and planting rice were in the village of Patung in the district of Amphoe, Province of Mae Jaem, 3 hours away from Chang Mai. This is the area served by Fr. Simon Tiwa along with some Brothers, sisters and Lay cooperators. The team covers a few schools in the surrounding villages.

3. Next set of photos are those in Bangkok. With Wiboom, I visited the Redeemer Church in Bangkok and the Mercy Centre for oprhans and those with HIV-AIDs, a center founded by Fr. Joe Maier CSsR.