At almost 95%, Buddhism is the overwhelming majority religion in Thailand. Nothing else even comes close. Islam is around 4% and with Christianity coming in at less than 1%, it’s obvious that the missionaries got exactly nowhere in The Land Of Smiles. While you may be hard-pressed to find a crucifix here, a shrine to a Hindu elephant god is another matter. There is an overlap of Buddhism and Hinduism that has its roots in…OK, I’m not even going to pretend to know anything about this, but if you want to dig deeper, have at it. Google is your friend. Long story short, Buddhism acknowledges Hindu gods as well and there are many statues of them in Thailand. For instance, this rather large one of Ganesha in front of my hotel. In Thailand, Ganesha is called Phra Phikanet and is worshipped as a deity that bestows success and good fortune by removing obstacles. The marigold garlands hanging off him in the shot above are common offerings (there were others – incense, coconut water, bananas and other fruits – but I lost them when I cropped the photo). Ganesha is a good guy to have on your side and it’s not at all unusual for a Buddhist to honor him a wai as they walk past.
As for me, well, I can’t help but be reminded of the “Simpson’s” episode where Apu finds it necessary to ask Homer, “Please do not offer my god a peanut.”
My room is on the second floor, directly behind Ganesha’s head in the photo. It has air-conditioning, which is a lifesaver in the brutal Thai heat, and cable for when I’m hiding from that heat. Not that the cable is of much use. Of the four-hundred-plus channels, only five are in English. Three of those show American movies of varying quality, censored for nudity (but violence gets a pass – much like the US in that respect), liberally interspersed with Thai infomercials for some sort of male enhancement snake-oil called “Double Maxx”. There is a half hour cut of it on YouTube, including an amusing depiction of …umm…male hydraulics…about 4:45 in, if you’re really interested (So I can’t see boobs on TV, but I can see that? Seriously?). The room also has a king-size bed, a small kitchenette with hot-plate and fridge, and sliding glass doors opening onto a balcony overlooking a pool and a small gym with weights, elliptical and a treadmill. Not bad for about $25 USD per day. A friend asked if that wasn’t a bit expensive for this part of the world, and couldn’t I get a mat on a floor for $2 a night? I suppose I could. I just don’t want to. I’ve slept on plenty of floors. It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.
It’s been a while since I used my posting muscles and I don’t want to cramp up, so l’ll just finish with a few updates. I’m heading to Laos in mid-May for a couple of weeks. Looking forward to that and hoping for some nice photos. Last week, my niece graduated from Northern Michigan University (Yay Becca!). I also dropped a 25 lb. steel weight that skidded down my shin before coming to an abrupt stop on my foot. That hurt a bit but otherwise, I’m getting along alright.
Finally, sorry for the blog neglect. I guess I’ve been feeling a bit blocked, creatively speaking. Maybe Ganesha will help me out. I wonder if he’s a “Simpson’s” fan.