Saturday, 6 December 2014

Bare feet through bat shit

Bare feet through bat shit

I originally titled this article Wat Sam Pran in Nakhon Pathom province, but then only 3 people would read it.

Wat Sam Pran in Nakhon Pathom province, Sam Pran district. วัดสามพราน จ.นครปฐม อ.สามพราน. Central part is a 17 storey cylindrical tower with a dragon wound around, therefore the locals call it Wat Mangkorn วัดมังกร (Dragon Temple).

Location:
13°44'05.3"N 100°12'53.4"E = 13.734806, 100.214836

Directions: BTS to Bang Wa บางหว้า, take exit 4 to to Phet Kasem เพชรเกษม road (= hwy 4). Take bus 84 (yellow, aircon, has Sam Pran สามพราน displayed but only in Thai). The bus crosses Tha Chin river แม่น้ำท่าจีน, and 2.0 km further it turns left from Phet Kasem to local road, the wat is after 1.0 km on your right, easily visible from main road. 

There is another bus 84 (red, no aircon) which goes to Crocodile and Elephant Farm. Not knowing about 84 yellow (but reading the destination and being aware that a few km are missing), we took this to the end of the line and then asked locals where I learnt about 84 yellow. Bus 84 red (6.5 Baht, 12:59-13:43), bus 84 yellow (13 Baht, 13:48-58). 

The ride will take you through a few km of Samut Sakhorn province จ.สมุทรสาคร (there are gates over the road when you leave/enter a province) and along the largely completed MRT extension above ground.

Thursday 27.11.2014, daytrip with a friend. There were few other vistors, but several monks and nuns who were all happy to see foreign visitors. At the end of our visit, we even got a blessing with religious chanting.

Entrance (red gate) seen from where we got off the bus, dragon tower in background. At the gate, it says open 4:30 to 21:30.


 
Huge well with dragons, stainless steel globe in the background.






Katapayayom พระคาถาพญายม leads the souls to heaven or hell, the bells are artist's idea. Information from a Thai friend.



Interior ground floor.





Interior basement: Buddhist Hell paintings on the floor (plastic that covers that has become turbid and scratched), shrine, shops, wood carvings.









A nun told us that the upper floors smell because there are bat droppings. To enter ground floor, we had to take off our shoes. If it had been possible to go up, I would have taken my shoes with me so I could put them on and wouldn't have to go bare feet through bat shit. However, this would make a great title for a book "Bare feet through bat shit - sightseeing in Thailand off the beaten track".

Unfortunately, entrance to the dragon (via Rahu's mouth ราหู) on 2nd floor was locked, and so was a door to 3rd floor.



The tower will be open some time, I asked three people and got four different answers: among them New Year, Father's day and April 1-7.

Another large building, two storeys with Buddha statue and buildings on the roof.





The drawings on wall and ceiling are made from 25 and 50 Satang coins.





On the ground, there is a large garden. Walkway with imprints of feet in concrete (around the dragon tower imprints of hands).







This shrine has a fake skull displayed. This shrine is to put something that belonged to a person who died a violent death in, so the spirit can live in the shrine in peace.




Sign in white/red: to adhere to the rules of Buddhism (เกาะศีล, เกาะ has the rare meaning of [to] hold ; cling ; arrest beside the common meaning of "island"). Sign in blue/white: the four heavenly ambassadors (for the 4 directions north, south, east, west) เทวฑูตทั้ง ๔.



Metallic lamps in various styles along the way.







But we are not done yet. There is is a huge concrete turtle that you can enter.





Inside it looks like a car park building (bare concrete, spiral downwards), and you can walk a tunnel underneath the pool that surrounds it and 50 m further you will exit to the garden.


 
Return by bus 84 yellow (19 Baht, 17:33-19:05 BTS Bang Wa, with stop a petrol station for refueling).

Internet says, and a Thai friend who remembers this case from the newspaper, that there was a scandal with a monk and underage girls many years ago, since then the was has been unpopular (explains low visitor numbers and lack of maintenance in some areas).

Further reading:
http://www.bhuddhobhavana-watsampran.org/ (in Thai)
http://www.bizarbin.com/wat-samphran-temple/
http://curious-places.blogspot.com/2012/08/wat-sampran-dragon-temple-sam-pran.html
http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/wat-samphran-temple
http://www.bangkok-daytrips.com/giant-dragon-temple-at-wat-samphran/  

Do not confuse with Dragon Descendants Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ลูกหลานพันธุ์มังกร) in Suphanburi สุพรรณบุรี, which is in the shape of a giant dragon as well.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC

2 comments:

  1. Guidebook with such catching tittle like you suggested likely would sell very well.
    Too bad you did not have a chance for such an adventure.
    Can't say this about myself - while climbing barefoot holy Mt Popa near Pagan in Myanmar steeped on resident monkey shit, unforgettable experience.

    Thank you for finding another gem for us and that close to BKK

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  2. re this bus 84:
    actually there are more variations:
    84 red, no suffix,just thunders down Phetkasem rd till Croc-farm, very frequent, it starts beside BTS WWyai-easier to transfer, passes WgWienYai.
    84 BRIGHT yellow is Private AC-as you describe
    84 ORANGE=real BMTA AC, makes mostly same way, turns right at end, ends Wat Ray King (=weekend floating market too)
    84ก (KOH) red, turns earlier right, follows sai4, ends Mahidol/SalaYa.
    THis special 84 used to be a BoKoSo=countrybus till about 2-3 years ago, as it goes out of BMA area.
    Have been to SamPran and was surprised about the old style slightly neglected wooden houses, came back via songhthaew back roads via the orchid farms-nice view IF there is any view from a fully packed songhthaew. With some money spent on renovating and sprucing, this could well be another Amphawan rival. But I missed your find, this wat

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