On our day off yesterday a group of us got up early to visit some Buddhist temples in the local area of Koh Samui. We left before breakfast to avoid to tourist rush so that we could spend some time wandering, reflecting and taking in the awe-inspiring architecture of these sacred buildings.
As our taxi dropped us off near the temples, the first thing that struck me was how huge the temples were. There was a cluster of them together, all at least 100ft high and towering over the local landscape. Painted in bright colours and gilted in gold, they were certainly impressive, but I couldn’t help but think of a theme park as I wandered around. And the painted expressions on the Buddha and Shiva felt rather more comedic than sacred (sorry).
As we wandered around, taking in the spectacle and watching monks go about their business, I couldn’t help but notice how peaceful the temples were. Once the initial shock of the bright colours, gilded gold and painted faces had passed, the area surrounding the temples was quiet, serene, peaceful. Just the sound of wind chimes sounded as a light breeze blew around us.
In comparison to European churches, which feel sombre and serious (yet no less inspiring), these temples were happy places. After several hours wandering around the temples and, just as the crowds began to in, we made our exit and said goodbye with big Buddha smiles on our faces.