Temples of Thailand - a photographic journey
Bangkok Area Provinces: Central North North-East West South East
Perfect Beauty - Temples of Thailand
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Perfect Beauty is the only expression which comes to my mind when thinking of a Wat, a temple in the Thai language. Although it is the closest translation, it does not really convey the full meaning of the word Wat. It is much more than just a place of worship. Buddhism requires all male believers to spend some time in their life as a monk. So, a Thai temple is much more than just a monastery. It influences life, culture and education and the Wat is very much a community center. In Bangkok it is also a place of silence where you can hide from the stress and traffic outside the Wat. For me the Wat and its images of Buddha represent a Thai version of a Japanese garden perfect beauty.
I didn't follow any convention when using the names of the temples. I used various maps, entrance signs, street signs or translations from various travel guides and they are all very different (English pronunciation vs. German or simply a Thai best guess of what the name would look like in 'farang' language). The Thai language is the best to use (and learn) for a correct usage of the name of the temple.
There is no particular order of the provinces or the temples. They were added and updated according to the trips we took.
We also want to note that as this is the public internet, we are not posting very detailed pictures of the Buddha images in order to help to protect them. A lot of individuals are scanning books and web sites for photos, which will then be used to "order" stealing of such images. A very sad fact we have come to learn on our travels and in our talks with the abbots. Hence we are usually just publishing a general view but not close-ups or details, except in those cases where the Buddha is very big, securely protected or already published in major publications. Images that were only shown to us in a "private" session we are not displaying at all.
For us this web site is more a way to make "tambun" (good deeds) and as we said already it is on the public internet. Hence we are not using our "best" pictures, which would just be copied by some people, but more the ones which allow us to document a certain temple. One friend, who is a photographer, once called my picture style "national-geographic-style" because he takes more art-like shots. While I wasn't sure if I should take this comment as a compliment or as an offence, it is actually true. We just want to show the temple and not the details or the so called art-like shots. We also do not believe in changing things around inside the temple, as many of our co-publishers do. They arrange their photography, pay people to pose or use their government contacts to get into royal temples which are normally locked. This way they can take pictures of the Buddha in a different setting than it normally is. We want to show the temple like it is. Sometimes they look messy. Sometimes they are under renovation. But for us it is a place to pray and meditate for the Buddhist people. As such we want to show it.
One word of caution though! On the outside of the temples in Bangkok are many tuk-tuk drivers, who will tell you that the 'temple is closed today', or that the 'temple is only open for Buddhists today'. All they will try to do is, to get you into their tuk-tuk and take you on a shopping tour. Just ignore them and tell them that temples NEVER close! For the rest of the temples in Thailand, this problem is non existent though and you are normally invited into the temple without any trouble.
By January 2013 we featured 1046 temples on chimburi.com.
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Khmer Sanctuaries are now hosted on www.khmer-temple.com