Ghostly Monks of Amphawa

10 Mar 2015
Ghostly Monks of Amphawa

It moved with grace, floating in silence like a fallen petal carried downstream by the river

I can't remember if I had my alarm on that particular morning or that something else woke me. All I can remember is that I was half-asleep and half-awake standing on a terrace. For me, early mornings are the best time of the day. No matter how tired I am, I always try to wake up early when I'm traveling.

A mist concealed some of the wooden houses in the distance. It was hot, sticky, and humid.

monk silhouette at sunrise in the canal

As my eyes adjusted to the view in front of me, I noticed a slow, ghostly shape gliding in the canal. It moved with grace, floating in silence like a fallen petal carried downstream by the river.

I tried to make out what it was: maybe a fisherman bringing his early catch to the market or a vendor just starting the day.

A closer inspection revealed a distinct orange robe coming into focus. The silhouette turned out to be that of a monk. He was alone at first, but several more arrived just moments after him.

I watched in wonderment as they parked their boats and as groups of people approached them. In exchange for prayers, the locals provided them with food. Hanging loosely on their shoulders were drum-shaped containers used to store food. Every morning, the monks visited the towns, filling up their bags with food, then went back to the temple to share it with the rest.

monk bringing plates and bowls monk bringing plates and bowls
speeding boat
hanging shirt in window antennas

Sometimes, they walked a considerable amount of distance just to get food. The act of trading goods is so primal that I wonder why it's not as common today. I found it refreshing how these gentle souls interact with their environment. They moved so gracefully and quietly that just by observing them, I felt a sense of calm.

monk walking barefoot in streets
monk in the market
blue towels hanged