Sightseeing in Bangkok: Wat Phra Dhammakaya

Sanuk is the Thai word for ‘fun,’ although, to locals here, its meaning is so much more than that.

It’s their mantra and embodies how they approach each day, with a laugh and a smile. 😀

I mean, come on, their New Year celebration each April involves a nationwide water gun fight. 😛

Thai-New-Year-Celebration
Courtesy of Google images

The more time I spend in Thailand, the more I understand sanuk. 🙂

Whether it’s dinner and drinks with friends:

IMG_8528
Holiday Dinner at Wine Connection Wine Bar

IMG_8525

IMG_8523
grilled sea bass topped with smoked salmon, and served with mashed potatoes and asparagus

Wine Connection Restaurant

Or drinking silly animal lattes at a local coffee shop:

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cat and crab lattes

20160117_153135Or enjoying shopping and live music at a night market:

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JJ Green Night Market

JJ Green Market: hours and directions

Or even taking in a movie at a vintage theater:

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Scala Theatre, Bangkok

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Scale Theater: movies and showtimes

I’ve been trying to include a little ‘sanuk’ in my daily routine. 🙂

I even took a spontaneous and sanuk-filled journey last Sunday, when my old boss back in Mexico recommended I meet her niece, who also lived in Thailand.

1453041340488Her niece messaged me Sunday, asking if I wanted to join her and her friend to visit a temple north of Bangkok. Spontaneous decisions are the best kind, so within 10 minutes, I was changed and out the door to meet them. 🙂

Dafni, my boss’s niece, was from Mexico City, but hadn’t lived there in many years. She had her Master’s in Economics, and had spent many years in a tiresome office job, before quitting and becoming the ultimate backpacker, traveling to globe and meditating all over Asia. Talk about risking everything for the sake of happiness. 😀

Being an avid meditator, she had come to Bangkok to see one temple in particular and invited me along for the ride. 1453041479533

Wat Phra Dhammakaya 

Wat Phra Dhammakaya is the largest venue for mass Buddhist meditation in the world. IMG_8530At one point it received the architecture of the year award for its simplistic design.
DSC_0003Personally, we thought it looked like an alien spaceship, so we decided to have a little fun. 😛dsdPutting the ‘sanuk’ in action again, with a little creativity and a good sense of humor. 😛14530871361541453041527502We even took ten minutes to color this sign. 😛

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Welcome to Earth

In actuality, the three-tiered design of this building is supposed to represent the ideals of Buddhism, known as the three jewels. ❤1453041291758The three jewels being: the Buddha, his teachings, and the community of followers (i.e. Buddha, Dharma, Sangha). IMG_8543The temple grounds are spread out over eighty acres, and over 4,000 monks live there under modest open-aired tarps, lined with bamboo mats, set out on a large concrete lot. DSC_0005 DSC_0009The first Sunday of each month they gather here by the masses, to meditate in the early morning, before the heat of the day.

Courtesy of Google Images

Wat Phra Dhammakaya: history and hours

After spending the day at the temple, we tried to unsuccessfully hail a cab back to the city. Waiting along the freeway, three taxis stopped, but had no interest in driving us that far. After twenty minutes an old woman drove by and waved her hand at us as she passed. She pulled over and told us she was heading to the city and would give us a ride. Her name was Bua, an 85 year-old Thai woman, who had just come from New Jersey that morning.

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Riding with Bua

She said she had visited New Jersey when she was 25, so now, at 85, she could not handle the cold there as much. Hah. Her husband had worked as an Ambassador in the US and Egypt, and she spent several years living abroad before he passed away at 39. Her daughter was born in the US, so she kept her American citizenship and had been living in New Jersey, working for the Thai Embassy. I was shocked to hear she was 85, since she looked so good. She told me it was from making merit at temple, which had blessed her. I asked her if her family ever visited and she said no. She said there is a lot of family in New Jersey and she is the only one here, so it is better if she visits them. I asked her what she does during the day. She laughed and told me nothing. She sat at her condominium and went to temple with her friends. The temple we had just seen was her favorite. She then began, as any sweet grandma would, to offer us oranges she had in a bag in the backseat. She paused for a minute and said, “Yes, two oranges for each of you.” So sweet! 😀IMG_8548
My friend Johan had dates in his bag, and asked if she wanted some. She told us she had lived in Cairo for three years, and remembered eating a lot of dates. Johan decided to give her the whole bag. A simple exchange of fruit, a warm thank you, and we were on our way. These are the kind of moments that make travel worth it. ❤

Anyway, I even ended this week with a whole lot of sanuk as well. 😛

I did a classroom game with the third graders to review clothing vocabulary. To start, I set out clothing on the carpet, and as a class, we talked about what each item was called and how to describe it. (i.e. striped shirt)

Then I played a game, where I divided the class into two teams. One member of each team had to try to put on as many pieces of clothing as they could in one minute. They only received a point if they could name the clothing, and they got a bonus point if they could describe it.

Let the madness begin! 😀

The kids were scrambling feverishly to beat the clock. 20160121_150830 I was even more impressed to see them help each other put on the different oversized pieces. What teamwork!20160121_15083920160121_151210Looked exhausting! Hah.
20160121_150826Yet, so much fun!
20160121_151334I literally had tears from laughing so hard.
20160121_151324The competitive edge made this a very silly, yet successful activity. 😀20160121_151328Well, that’s all for now. Hope you can make time this weekend to add a little ‘sanuk’ into your daily routine. After all, life is too short not to smile. 😛f5658552a40d0a8ff52cfc4cad4b7372Take care and until next time. 😀

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