Sunday 18 November 2007

Wat Kiri Wongkaram, Baan Taling Ngam

Yesterday we also visited Wat Kiri Wongkaram in Baan Taling Ngam.

My main reason to go and visit this temple, form my point of view, literally at the other side of the island, was to see the local mummified monk, of who's existence I recently was informed by Monique, who has her own, lovely photo blog Land of Smiles. Another reason was to meet Monique, which worked out fine since she lives not too far away from the local temple!

First off, when entering Baan Taling Ngam, one encounters this massive, impressive Elephant Gate, build by the head monk in 1979 as an entrance to Taling Ngam. With it's unique and friendly demeanor, it welcomes all who come to this traditional village and those to visit the temple.

The original families of Baan Taling Ngam descend from local islanders, mainland Thai's and Chinese fisherman, as this was the first seaport for merchant traders over 100 years ago.

First named Taling Punk or Damaged Shore after being washed away during a fierce storm in 1900, the name was changed to Baan Taling Ngam or Beautiful Shore in 1942. Taling Ngam offers a breathtaking view over the 5 Islands (Koh See Koh Haa) just off its shore. The sun sets exactly on this place thus offering the most beautiful sunsets on Koh Samui.

That there was a Mummified Monk in this temple was a big surprise for my, since I only knew about the more famous one in Wat Kunaram. I don't think too many people are aware of this one at all and this temple is also a bit more off the beaten track. This is the building he is 'resting' in.

There's a small gate in front, which you're welcome to open and step inside.

The Taling Ngam temple was build around 1900. It was named Wat Kiri Wongkaram meaning "mountainous temple' for it's pristine placement surrounded by valleys and mountains.

The current state of the temple is not that glorious, unfortunately. In stark contrast to many other temples of the island, who prosper with the local Samui inhabitants, this temple looks as old as it is.

This monk's name was Luang-Por Rerm or Khun Thummo and he was born near the temple in 1879. He was 21 years old when ordained but soon made a pilgrimage to Burma where he was initiated into deep mystical Buddhist practices. He returned to Koh Samui and passed away on 9th January, 1966 at the age of 87. After 66 years in the monk hood and a life of purity and meditation his body mummified naturally upon his death without the use of chemical preservation.

Amazingly his hair and nails still grow. Sections of the nails and hair are cut and used as protective charms.

On the right hand side is a statue of the monk and in the back is the place the Mummified Monk is sitting, behind glass.

Another beautiful artifact in the small shrine house of the Mummified Monk is this piece of Thai/Samui Buddhist tradition. You have to spin the wheel and it will come to rest on a number, which corresponds with a number on a big wooden table behind this wheel. Under the corresponding number on the table there are pieces of papers that tell you your fortune.

If you plan on a tour around the island, definitely plan in a visit to this lesser visited temple with an amazing artifact; the Mummified Monk.

A lot of the information in my post was copied from a very helpful A4 sized paper, that's available at no cost inside the temple. A great initiative that cries out loud for follow up's in other temples around Samui, so we, the visitors and/or tourists have a slight clue of what's going on and get a better insight in some of the backgrounds of traditional Samui.



Anonymous said...

Mooi artikel en leuk geschreven! Ben er pas een paar weken geleden achtergekomen dat Taling Ngam vroeger een andere naam had! Jij weet veel zeg ...! Ben je site aan 't doorlopen en er is nog veel wat ik niet heb gezien, nu maar hopen dat de zon blijft schijnen! Prettige zondag.

Camille Lemmens said...

Hoi Monique,

Bedankt voor je complimenten, ik bloos er bijna van!

Veel informatie heb ik bij elkaar gesprokkeld door andere artikelen te lezen en te citeren (plagiaat!) want over het algemeen is het best wel moeilijk om goede achtergrond informatie te vinden over Samui's geschiedenis.