Wat Saket, the first of many Wats

I don’t know what the rules are. Just enter? Or does that sign in Thai say something like ‘Do not enter. Beware of dog. Fine of 5000 Baht’. I risk it. I’m not sure where I am going, but eventually I come across a ticket office. For 20 baht I can climb the golden mountain. As is the custom in Buddhist temples, a sign reminds people to take off their shoes. The first part of the staircase is a waterfall, so I tie my pants around the knee as well. The steps are tiny, so I take two at a time. On the sides are bells, flamingo statues and of course Buddhas. I’m already amused by the kitchy flamingo’s, but when I come around the corner I halt. The view is breath-taking. I am there at the right time too. The sun is about to set and puts the city in a dreamy orange glow.

When I reach the top of the stairs, all under Buddhist singing, a voice plays on repeat: “Do not take off your shoes. Ok. Bizarre. They were already off from the start. It must have something to do with the renovations that are going on. This time I therefore put my shoes on before entering the temple. Inside I find lots of gold. Everything sparkles. The other thing that stands out is all the boxes you can donate money in. To help you out they put some of the notes against the glass as an example. You can also buy ice creams. It’s strange how tourism mixes with religion. Inside the building a monk is praying with a man. Outside on the steps I see three monks come down. One carries a tripod and another has a camera that is better than mine.

As I’m staring out over Bangkok’s skyline, a Thai guy approaches me and points out the tallest building in Bangkok, which was only built last year. He has a completely different use for the temple. He’s running up and down the stairs and circles around the building. This holy place is a lot less strict than I expected. I honestly had no idea what I was going to see, but that unexpected part made it all so much better. Who knew this was a temple with a view.

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