The Magnificent Mekong Day 11

This morning we were awake at 4:30 AM and watched ESPN’s game cast of the Ohio State VS Indiana football game. It was their first game of the season. Ohio State won 23-3.

This morning we tried another tropical fruit, longan. The fruit was similar to the lychee. It was native to Asia.

Today we had about an hour drive to the Udon Monastery. We passed the fish market which was busiest at 3:00 AM and 4 PM but we still saw individuals doing business. As we drove along it was so interesting watching the sites.

The Vipassana Dhurak Buddhist Center or Udon Monastery complex was huge. The main purpose of the center was to teach Vipassana meditation techniques. Vipassana meant to see things as they really are and came from India’s ancient teachings for meditation. Proper temple dress was required and no hats on the grounds at all so many of our group used umbrellas because the sun was intense today.

Entrance sign

The architecture of the buildings and gardens was beautiful.

We climbed the steps up to the temple and removed our shoes before going inside.

This was the temple we climbed up the stairs for our blessing with the Buddhist monks.

The inside walls and ceiling was covered with colorful panals that told of the Buddha’s life.

We went into the Pagoda for a blessing service from two Buddhist Monks. Instead of water being thrown the monks threw jasmine and lotus petals. When the monks started the blessing chant their voices were so calming even though we had no idea what they were saying.

Tony, our program director, took this picture during our blessing.

After the blessing we walked around the area. The monks and the laypeople were getting ready for their meal. The monks eat first in order of their age and then the laypeople.

In part of the wooded area were homes of the laypeople who live here. Below were just some of the homes we saw as we walked around. Our local guide told us her grandfather lived in a home like this at a different temple complex and when he passed the family left it for another family to have a place of shelter.

We left the Buddhist Center for a drive to a small village. On our way we crossed the Tonie Sap Lake which was part of the Mekong river system and were on a modern bridge.

Our next stop was Koh Chern which was famous for silver smith and jewelry and was an island in the Tonie Sap Lake. As you cross the bridge the first sight you see was a sitting Buddha!

Sitting Buddha on Koh Chern.

Once we crossed the bridge our bus was too big to go into town so we transferred onto tuk-tuks for the rest of the ride.

The village of Koh Chern silver craft was passed from generation to generation. None of these artisans attended art schools, they learned from family members. Their craft was almost lost during the Khmer Rouge regime. We visited one of the many family-run workshops in the village. The workshop was also part of the family’s home. The family did a demonstration for us.

This afternoon we took a tuk-tuk to the Harvest Square shopping area to visit the Hard Rock Cafe to pick up a guitar pin for Cambodia.

The same tuk-tuk driver picked us up and on our way back to the riverboat our driver stopped and pointed out sights around the city and then a torrential rain fell and blew in on us. Our driver stopped and put down the clear plastic sides but he was drenched!

Before dinner we went to a presentation on Cambodia’s modern history by Stephanie. She was a linguist and anthropologist.

After her presentation we had a port talk so we would know the schedule and have time to prepare for tomorrow’s adventures!

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