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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • January 23, 2006

     

    Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok (1)

    I arrived in Bangkok on the Thai King's birthday, Dec 5 2005. All government agencies and temples closed in observance to this national holiday. I made sure to wake up early and pay visit to the adjoining Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) before a stream of buses dislodged loads after loads of tourists when the temples opened at 8 in the morning.Wat Phra Kaew is both a sacred structure and the repository of the spirit of the entire Thai people. Royal ceremonies perform here nearly the whole year round. The Thais come here to listen to sermons on Buddhist holy days and Sundays. They venerate the Emerald Buddha for auspicious benefits and to engage in meditation in order to develop a peaceful mind. I came here to learn about the history of the temple and to admire the beauty of the architecture.

    Upon entry to the temple my attention was immediately captured by the wonder of gleaming, gilded chedi (stupas) seemingly buoyed above the ground. This stupa was constructed in imitation of the large one at Wat Phra Si Sanpet at Ayuthaya (see previous post). Adorned with a golden mosaic, the Phra Si Ratana Chedi enshrines the relics of the Buddha.

    The highly stylized ornamentation at the ubosoth, an edifice inside a Buddhist monastery within which the ordination of monks and other rituals can be performed, is a shrine to the much revered Emerald Buddha. Picture is not allowed inside the ubosoth and visitors are recommended to purchase a pamphlet on the history of the temple for 20 bacht if they wish to better understand the history of the temple and to have pictures of the shrine. Mural paintings inside the ubosoth depict the scene of the Buddhist cosmology (the Three Worlds of Desire, Form and Non-Form), the Enlightenment of the Buddha, and the Life of the Buddha. Scenes from the jataka, the previous lives of the Buddha can only be found here. The encompassing hallway outside of the ubosoth is flanked by garudas (the king of birds and the mount of Vishnu) holding naga (the king of serpents). The Thais believe that this motif has the power to chase away evil spirits.North of the ubosoth stands the Phra Mondop (Library). The building was built in the late Ayuthaya style in the middle of a pond in order to keep the termites from eating the holy palm-leaf manuscripts. The Library is exquisitely decorated with a bronze snake with human faces, rather than reptilian ones on the railing of each staircase, the demon door-guardians and the mother-of-pearl inlaid door panels.

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