Biking with Buddha

I was not truly biking with Buddha on my most recent cycling trip to Thailand. Buddha attained full Buddhahood some 2,500 years ago thus escaping the cycle of rebirth and suffering. Still there are signs of him everywhere starting with the small shrines on the streets, along the roads, in small villages and near every hotel we used during the trip.

Cycling out of Sing Buri we visited Wat Phra Non Chakkrasi Worawihan which houses a huge Sukhothai-style reclining Buddha. Revered by the local people, the Buddha is renowned for its large size, measuring 46 meters in length.

Wat Phra Non Chakkrasi Worawihan is one of the more impressive temples in Thailand but it seemed that the road to Bangkok was lined with impressive working temples. Indeed we might never have reached Bangkok if we had stopped to visit each wat along the way.

There are five UNESCO World Heritage sites in Thailand. Two of these are centered around the ruins of historic wats in former Thai capitals. One is in Ayutthaya and the other is in Sukhothai. Words such as incredible, wonderful, majestic, and impressive are wholly in adequate in describing these sites. These photos might give you some sense of the sites but they are a poor replica of the actual visit.

buddhaintree

Thailand is one the two largest Buddhist nations, measured by percentage of population, in the world. Maybe this helps explain the many small kindnesses we experienced cycling from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and the sense of serenity we often felt along the way. Even the dogs in rural villages were calm, few barked and none chased us as we cycled past. Some of the riders suggested this was because it was too hot. Perhaps, but I think they were earning merit by being kind and in the process getting back on the Eightfold Path of achieving spiritual enlightenment. If they are really good then maybe they will be cyclists in their next life.

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