Thursday, June 16, 2016

昭應廟: The Chinese Temple beside Saphan Taksin BTS Station @ Bangkok [Thailand]

Whenever i travel free and easy, there's one thing i look out for - the opportunity to explore a place that's not on my agenda and be amazed (hopefully) by what i found.

This Chinese style temple was noticed right after i disembarked from the skytrain of Saphan Taksin BTS Station; a refreshing sight given that my eyes had been accustomed to the magnificence of Thai temples!

As time was not a luxury given that it was a relaxed trip (yes, i had to emphasise that every single time) and Asiatique had yet to start its business, Alex didn't protest when i suggested to stop over for a while.

I erroneously thought the Chinese characters (瓊州公所) inferred the name of the temple. It sounded a bit strange as 公所 is more a public office than a temple.

Huge spacious courtyard that's an extravagance in the capital city. The practical soul in me would just think about the utter waste of space that could be put to better use; would have lost the charm though.

A small altar next to the entrance; since it was in a standalone structure and placed rather low on the ground, i guess many of you might have assumed this would house the land deity known as 土地公.

No confirmation with the lack of label and i doubt the altar was set up to honour a piece of incense infused coral! Well, god knows right?

With a history spanning more than 150 years, you don't feel its age by looking at the temple's facade. I was instead very impressed with the numerous statues of soaring dragons on the rooftop.

Entering the temple, i still didn't know who the patron saint was. The other decorative items on the main altar totally overshadowed the main patron; a strange phenomenon as most temples would build a sizable one to reflect its importance.

I did attempt to speak to the caretaker but my halting Teochew was a barrier to effective communication. Alex, as a half Teochew, was as bad.

Another altar on the side; initially thought to honour Mazu, the Chinese characters on top indicated 水尾圣母; a deity who hailed from Hainan Island and worshiped differently from Mazu. Some, however, believe Mazu is a manifestation from 水尾圣母.

This is the main patron saint and like you, i was surprised to see an ancestral tablet! Words indicated 108 heroic souls and the story was quite unbelievable.  

I read it in Chinese and my translation and understanding could be wrong. In a nutshell, people on the boat were murdered by officials who claimed they were pirates and the truth was uncovered because of a dream by a king and an coincidence; one of the bad officials entered into a tavern which belonged to a family member of the victim who recognised the item on the bad official. 

Legend said that the victims turned into gods after justice was served and after which, were said to ensure the safety of those travelling on boats. Interesting?

Well, i shall not comment too much given my skepticism when it comes to such things. Let's just enjoy the treasures that could be found within; like this ancient grandfather's clock; i could resist turning it into black and white.

Many plaques adorned the ceiling but i didn't take a closer look as the heat was getting to us then and i was perspiring nonstop! From experience, my shirt would stink badly if i continue to let the sweat soak through.

Walking past the fearsome door gods which were said to ward off evil. It's funny right? You have a patron saint within the temple, so why is there a need to have more gods? The only way to put things logically is to think of an emperor in a palace; he does need his guards, doesn't he? 

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Location
Beside Saphan Taksin BTS Station
Across Chao Phya Tower


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