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Showing posts from July, 2013

Observing Buddhist Lent

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Last week,on the 22nd July, we witnessed one of the most important events in the Buddhist religious calendar, Asalha Bucha day.

Asalha Bucha commemorates the first sermon delivered by Buddha, in which he explained his doctrine of the "Four Noble Truths" and is seen in the Buddhist faith as the day when "the wheel of dhamma was set in motion". Dhamma is the principle or law that keeps balance/order in the universe. The law was theorised and formulated by Buddha and over time the word "dhamma" has also come to mean his teachings, so essentially Asalha Bucha is celebrating the beginning of Buddhist teachings and of the religion itself.

The day after Asalha Bucha is the start of Buddhist Lent, known as "Khao phansa" or "Rains Retreat". It is when monks remain in their temple for a period of 3 months (during the rainy season) to pray, meditate and study Buddhist scripture.

Laypeople often participate in Khao phansa by following a vegetarian…

Nazi cafe controversy

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When I first heard about this story I thought it was an April Fool's joke, but then I realised it's July and the story is actually true!!!!

There is a Nazi-themed cafe in the Indonesian city of Bandung, which is the provincial capital of West Java, that features German World War II paraphernalia including posters of Hitler, giant Swastikas and even waiting staff dressed as SS officers.
(I am not the owner of this photograph, nor do I hold the copyright. It is reproduced courtesy of the Independent & Independent Print Ltd) (I am not the owner of this photograph, nor do I hold the copyright. It is reproduced courtesy of the New York Post & News Corp) (I am not the owner of this photograph, nor do I hold the copyright. It is reproduced courtesy of Facebook)
The "Soldatenkaffee" or Solider's Cafe is named after a famous Parisien watering-hole that was popular among German soldiers during the 2nd Word War. I'm sure the Fuehrer would approve of this incarnatio…

A return to Ayutthaya.......

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I remember a few years back that I brought you some of my highlights from a trip to Ayutthaya and having recently returned to the city, to attend a friend's wedding, I thought it would be a good opportunity to show you some more of the sights.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ayutthaya, it is to the North of Bangkok and approximately 160 kilometres from my home on the outskirts of Pattaya.The drive is around 3-3 1/2 hours depending on traffic and it's fairly easy to take the wrong turning if you don't have your wits about you. It is also very easy to access the city by train, public bus or minivan. However, most minbuses in Thailand are driven so recklessly that I would rather poke hot coals in my eyes than travel aboard them. But that's a story for another day!!!! 

Now we have got the travelling practicalities out the way, allow me to give you a short history lesson.......

In the 13th and 14th centuries Thailand was a patchwork of Kingdoms, with Ayutthaya being the o…

Buddhism: The concept of karma and making "merit"

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The Thais are a strange bunch, most of them seem to be as poor as church mice and any farang who has spent time in the Kingdom will tell you that they are constantly pleading poverty or asking to borrow your money.

But, when it comes to making donations to local temples, then wads of money will quickly appear and be placed in the ubiquitous envelopes. Hardly a week goes by without somebody in the local community coming to your house asking for "money for Buddha".
In order to understand this behaviour, you have to understand the importance and prevalence of Buddhism in Thai society. The Thais place great importance on the concept of" karma" and "making spiritual merit".
Karma is basically the sum of your actions in this life and in previous states of existence and as Thais believe in reincarnation, this means karma can carry over in to your future lives. The idea of "making merit" is to ensure that your karma is good and that this life and any fu…

Amusing Thai brand names

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Doing the weekly shop back in Blighty is generally regarded as a bit of chore. The thought of trudging around the supermarket aisles, full of miserable, grumbling, sour-faced punters, having to queue up for an eternity and being hit with a 3-figure bill upon reaching the checkout, is enough to bring you out in a cold sweat!!!. 
However, a trip to Tesco in the Land of Smiles is a whole different ball game........the shelves are positively groaning under the weight of hilariously named products.
Thailand is a country where political correctness is virtually non-existent. It is not unusual for a Thai person, upon meeting a friend, to say something derogatory. Examples I have heard whilst meeting Thai friends include; "Hello, you're much fatter since I last saw you" or "Good morning, your skin is looking very black".  
It is this lack of political correctness that leads to products like this being deemed acceptable for sale.........      

I believe darkie toothpas…