Me and you and a monk named Boo

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“So, whatcha do this weekend?’ a colleague asked making friendly Monday morning talk.  “Oh we went to Stockton.” I replied nonchalantly.  “Really?  Willingly?” he asked with a look of confused disgust.  Then finally he sputtered out “but . . . why?”

Why it was Cambodian New Year, silly!  Browsing about looking for things to do this weekend I came upon a listing for a New Years celebration at the Wat Dharmararam, a Cambodian Buddhist Temple.  What a better way to celebrate Easter?*  The place was a complete trip.  Probably close to 20 hand painted huge Buddha statues depicting the story of the Buddha’s life.   Not to mention hundreds of  Cambodian families sitting on the ground in the shadows of the statues with  Asian pop music was blaring from the stage.  It truly felt as if we were in a foreign country.

As the boyfriend and I made our way along the statues we noticed that all the signage was in Cambodian with nary an English translation in sight.  We went up to the information booth to see if they had a hand-out or something that could tell us in English what we were looking at.  A kindly young American monk stepped out of the booth and offered to be our tour guide.  We spent the next 45 minutes walking around the grounds as Boo, our new monk friend explain Buddha’s life story, his own life story, and amusing tales of being the only non-Cambodian monk in the monastery.

The Buddhas of the Three Times

The Buddhas of the Three Times

Not sure what this was all about, but people getting eaten by sharks and crocs in the same pond is always pretty cool

Not sure what this was all about, but people getting eaten by sharks and crocs in the same pool was kinda cool.

The boyfriend and our new friend a monk named Boo.

The boyfriend and our new friend a monk named Boo.

I'm not sure if this would be my choice of t-shirt for a day out at the Temple, but who am I to judge?

I'm not sure if this would be my choice of t-shirt for a day out at the Temple, but who am I to judge?

We ended our tour in the Temple, which doubled as a dining hall. Unlike some of the other Buddhist temples I’ve been in, this was not particularly ornate, nor at all formal. Again, there were many Cambodian families camped out on the ground eating. Eventually, an elderly Cambodian monk took to a throne-like chair. “He’s going to give a talk now.” I got all excited and prepared to find myself a seat, until Boo stopped me with a simple question, “so, how’s your Cambodian?” Riiiiight.  So, we hung out a bit longer to soak in the festive vibe amidst all these amazing statues – some gaudy, some scary, and some incredibly serene.  It was a good day.

* I really don’t do Easter.  I mean why should I?  I’m not Christian, I don’t have children and I don’t get a day off of work for it, so the point is . . . ?

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11 responses »

  1. I agree, learning about other cultures is saomething I enjoy. I wish there was more diversity here in that respect. I’m sure there is, I just haven’t found it.

    Unfortunately, most of what we do see here is hippys spouting off there love of trees and the environment while the litter the same ground they are crying to protect.

    But it looks like a good time. And, what could be more entertaining than a croc shooting water out of its nose while its eating someone?

  2. Ambremauritius – Welcome. Yes, I do enjoy experiencing other cultures, and one of these days I hope to do more actual traveling. But, for now, I feel fortunate that California is so diverse, and it’s easy to find cultural diversions.

    Adam – Oh, annoyed by hippies, are we? Wait until my next post. 🙂

    Yes, that particular statue arrangement/fountain was indeed interesting. I think it had to do with Buddha being able to subdue even the fiercest of enemies. But, I’m afraid I found more comedy in it than I probably should have.

    Wisdomjunkie – considering Boo the Monk lives by old school Vinaya – including not handling money nor touching women – I think he would make pretty lousy boyfriend material. I have enough issues with the non-ordained boyfriend in those regards.

  3. It sounds like an interesting afternoon. Your pictures are so amusing… the eating thing, and the tee-shirt, and boo looks like he could moonlight as a Broadway character actor, easily.

  4. Hi =) I am the Monk you met that day New Year day. I actually remember you and the visit.
    I am still a Monk and currently live in Rochester MN now. I was searching the other night for photos of the Wat in Stockton and I purely by chance ran into this blog and got a good chuckle out of the headline =) I had to share it with my good friend here. My new temple in Minnesota is also Cambodian purely by chance. The world is weird that way.

    Hope all is well with you!
    Buddha bless you

    Venerable Boo

    I have taken to painting a lot and if you care to see them go take a gander at them
    http://s767.photobucket.com/albums/xx314/trodse/
    Lots of Buddhist stuff

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