Friday nights after spring rolls and pad tai for dinner, we all pile into songtaos and head to town. The veteran volunteers show us the bar the Mirror frequents and how to avoid curfew.
We go to a bar called Coconut’s because it has a billiards table, darts, and we get to choose the music. It was fun reuniting with the other volunteers and sharing first week stories. Nothing too exciting happened on the first night out but it was good to meet everybody in a more relaxed setting.
All volunteers go to the Akha Hilltribe to stay with Bon (one of the Thai intern’s) family for one weekend. This was my weekend and boy was it an exciting one. We hop into the back of a truck and set off to see the White Temple before heading to the village. I’ve seen my fair share of temples in both Japan and Sri Lanka, but I’ve never seen anything like this. As you could probably guess by the name, this temple is all white and gorgeous. The inside is being renovated on account of the damage done by the earthquake two weeks ago, but when you look closely at the drawings inside the temple, it’s definitely not what you expect.
Let me paint you a picture of this wall. The World Trade Centers are being hit by the airplanes of September 11th, bombs raining down from the sky, two headed dragon beasts wrapping their heads around the towers, Superman flying between the Twin Towers, robots, minions from Despicable Me, and Hello Kittys playing on the missiles that are raining down, and demons from hell creeping up to New York City.
Definitely not what any of us expected inside a temple. If the intention was to catch people’s attention it definitely did the job. I’m sure some people think it’s a cool mix between pop culture and timeless traditions, but I for one was not having it. Temples are holy places and, even though I’m not religious, I wouldn’t want a minion staring down at me as I’m trying to pray. Later I found out that it is supposed to represent escaping material things, desire, and greed, but I still don’t feel right about those drawings. To each their own I guess.