5 rivers... Well, I don't mean to talk about the political here. I am talking about the main 5 rivers in the central Thailand with the tale of 5 brother Buddha images which each of them was floating in each of the 5 rivers. 5 rivers include Chao Phraya River, Bang Pakong River, Nakornchaisri River (Tha-Jeen River), Mae Klong River, and Phetchaburi River.
The tale states that there were 5 monks who are brothers living in the Northern part of Thailand. They dedicated themselves studying dharma and prayed that once they die, their soul please stay until they are able to approach the nirvana. After they passed away, they had transformed into 5 Buddha images floating in 5 different rivers. Then each of them were invited to be enshrined in 5 different temples as follows. Luang Pho Ban Laem is at Wat Phet Samut in Samut Songkhram Province (Mae Klong River), Luang Pho To is at Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai in Samut Prakan Province (Chao Phraya River), Luang Pho Sothorn is at Wat Sothorn in Chachoengsao Province (Bang Pakong River), Luang Pho Wat Rai Khing is at Wat Rai Khing in Nakhon Pathom Province (Nakornchaisri River), and Luang Pho Thong is at Wat Khao Takrao in Phetchaburi Province (Phetchaburi River).
The first part of the tale talks only about three brother Buddha images including Luang Pho Ban Laem, Luang Pho To, and Luang Pho Sothorn. The tale includes Luang Pho Wat Rai Khing and Luang Pho Thong later on. That is why it has become five brother Buddha images' tale nowadays.
Some people might not agree with the tale since these five rivers have nothing in common or somehow not connected with each other at all. However, you need to keep it in mind that this tale has been told for generations. The truth might not be able to be proven. And if you don't feel right about it, you might not be able to enjoy yourself along this trip.
The tale it is that makes the trip even more charming. I have heard about this tale for years and I like it a lot because it is so much fun plus I am a kind of religious person. I have paid homage to Luang Pho Sothorn, Luang Pho Ban Laem, and Luang Pho Thong before. And then I have been invited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to join a trip to visit all five brother Buddha images and of course I said yes with no hesitation.
We travel on 21-22 November. It is a trip to explore the new route of traveling organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand Phetchaburi Office in a cooperation with Bangkok and Samut Songkhram Office. The campaign is called "Benjapakee Vari Patiharn (Five brother Buddha images and the miracle river tale)". The journey starts from Bangkok to Chachoengsao, Samut Prakan, Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi, and Nakhon Pathom respectively.
The very first stop is at Wat Sothonwararam. This place is always full with people. If we talk about the five brother Buddha images, it has to be accepted that Luang Pho Sothorn is the most successful, the most famous, and the richest one. Luang Pho Sothorn has a huge temple with so many subordinates. People who have been here know exactly what I am talking about. Only the ordination hall is extremely enormous. It was built under the budget of 2,000 million Baht.
When you enter the ordination hall, you will see two main Buddha images. The one in front is Luang Pho Sothorn and the one behind is the old principle Buddha image. According to the tale, Luang Pho Sothorn was enshrined here since 250 years ago but before it could be successfully enshrined, there was a certain religious ceremony inviting Luang Pho Sothorn from Bang Pakong River. Without the ceremony, it couldn't be done.
It is not allowed to put the gold leaf onto Luang Pho Sothorn. If you would like to do so, you can do it with the model one in another hall. You can also compensate for your successful vow over there. For me, I rather pay homage to the original Luang Pho Sothorn here.
After the first stop is done, we have got a chance to visit Klong Suan 100 Years Market on the way to our next temple. This old market is very nice. It is at the border between two provinces, Samut Prakan and Chachoengsao. The main entrance belongs to Samut Prakan but if you walk across the river, Khlong Prawet Burirom, you will be in Chachoengsao.
The highlight would be the traditional Thai desserts. Some of them I don't even know before. The recipe has been taught from generation to generation. It is truly an old market place. Klong Suan 100 Years Market opens every day from late morning to late afternoon. So you can stop by any days. And if you are kind of curious what are those traditional Thai desserts I don't know about, you can go and figure that out yourself here. hahaha
Then we go to Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai by Khlong Samrong River in Samut Prakan Province. We are here to pay homage to Luang Pho To, the third brother of the five brother Buddha images. This is counted as the number that each Buddha image was invited and taken from the river to be enshrined in the temple. But if we talk about the size, Luang Pho To is the biggest one. To in Thai means big. People are coming here all the times. This is shown well how much people respect Luang Pho To.
Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai is famous for its Lotus Throwing Festival. This festival is held every year on the 14th day of 11th lunar month. I have seen this festival through TV every year and feel like to be part of it one day especially after coming to experience the atmosphere of this temple this time.
Apart from the temple, there is Bang Phli Old Market, Khlong Samrong opening on the weekend. So you could enjoy chilling out there and looking for some good food. The highlight would be eating Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf in Bang Phli recipe with Deep-fried Gourami fish from Bang Bo. This simple local menu is simply delicious.
And now it is going to be a long journey to Phetchaburi. We drive on Kanjanapisek Road, Wong Waen Rob Nok before continuing on Rama II Road. Then we turn left at kilometer marker 72 into the rural road number 2021 or known as bypass road, Khlong Khon - Cha-am. It is quite a scenic route.
This route from Khlong Khon, Samut Songkhram will directly lead you to Ban Laem District in Phetchaburi where another brother Buddha image is enshrined. It is Luang Pho Thong at Wat Khao Takrao. Luang Pho Thong is the smallest Buddha image in the five brother Buddha images and the most interesting one as well.
We really can't tell how does the original Luang Pho Thong look like because Luang Pho Thong is covered with a thick gold leaves as you can see. Another difference of Luang Pho Thong from other four Buddha images is that Luang Pho Thong is enshrined in the temple's pavilion not in the ordination hall.
The ordination hall of Wat Khao Takrao was burnt down in 1984. Luang Pho Thong was on fire and all the gold leaves were melted and turned into gold weighting almost 10 kilograms. Locals believed that the fire was a miracle done by Luang Pho Thong to sacrifice his gold. There is a photo of Luang Pho Thong before the miracle happened as well at the temple's pavilion.
Within these five temples, Wat Khao Takrao should be the one that has the least development budget. However, it is not an undeveloped one. It is just the least when we compare with other four temples.
After visiting Wat Khao Takrao, we are heading to the hotel right away which is located in Chao Samran Beach area. Anyway, since this review is not about the hotel so I will skip it. But if you are planning to have a trip like mine, I would recommend you to find a hotel here in Chao Samran Beach because it is very convenient.
The new day has approached and we are going to the fourth province in the list. The fourth Buddha image is at Wat Phet Samut in Mae Klong, Samut Songkhram. Well, I have been to Wat Phet Samut quite often. Every time I come around this area, I always stop by here to pay homage to Luang Pho Ban Laem and eat the famous Dried Rice. And again this place is full with people.
Luang Pho Ban Laem is different from other Buddha images since Luang Pho Ban Laem is a standing Buddha image in the attitude of holding alms bowl. There is a lot of tales about Luang Pho Ban Laem. I would like to tell you two of them. The first tale is that Luang Pho Ban Laem is the very first one that was invited from the river to be enshrined. Therefore, Luang Pho Ban Laem is comparable as the oldest brother. The second tale is that the fisherman from Ban Laem, Phetchaburi came to do fishing around the estuary in Mae Klong. They caught two Buddha images by accident while fishing. One was a seated Buddha image and another one was standing Buddha image. On their way back home, they lost the standing Buddha image in the river. Therefore, they were only able to bring the seated Buddha image back. The seated Buddha image is Luang Pho Thong at Wat Khao Takrao nowadays.
The standing Buddha image was found later on by the locals of Mae Klong. Then it was invited to be enshrined at Wat Sri Jampa (the old name of Wat Phet Samut). Once the fisherman who found the Buddha image earlier heard about this, they came over to Mae Klong to ask for the Buddha image back. There was a little argument on this. However, they had made an agreement at the end that the standing Buddha image can be here but the name of the temple had to be changed from Wat Sri Jampa to Wat Ban Laem and call the Buddha image as Luang Pho Ban Laem. The name of the temple got changed again later to Wat Phet Samut which has been used until today.
Our next destination is at Wat Rai Khing in Nakhon Pathom Province but we are going to make a little stop at Woodland Muangmai in Nakornchaisri first.
I have to admit that I haven't heard about this place before. However, once I have stepped in, I feel so amazed. Woodland Muangmai is a private sector-run-museum belonging to Thewphaingam family. The family has been collecting numbers of carved wood sculptures from everywhere and dividing them exhibiting in different rooms. They are very beautiful.
Some of the wooden art works are related to religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. I am telling you each artwork is amazing. The admission fee to the museum is 200 THB. I thought it is pretty expensive at first but after what I have seen, I think it is even too cheap to see something like this. Therefore, it is more than worth it.
It is no need to trust in what I have just said. I truly want you to experience it yourself. Then you can tell if I did lie or not. hahaha
And here we are, we have arrived at Sampran, Nakhon Pathom, the place where Wat Rai Khing is. The temple is crowded since it is one of the most famous temples. Luang Pho Wat Rai Khing is enshrined in the ordination hall which people are not allowed to put a gold leaf on as same as Luang Pho Sothorn.
Those who would like to put a gold leaf onto Luang Pho Wat Rai Khing, they need to do it with the model one or with the attitudes of Pa Lay Lai Buddha images at the entrance gate of the ordination hall. You are also able to be blessed by a monk and get some talismans here.
The temple is spacious so it can accommodate tons of people. Not far from the riverbank, there is a pavilion of five brother Buddha images which are all the model ones. Therefore, you can pay homage to all of them at once here. And it is such a good ending for this whole trip, the trip to pay homage to five brother Buddha images, the Benjapakee Vari Patiharn trip.
I would say I am very lucky to be invited and have a chance to join this trip. I have heard the tale of these five brother Buddha images for a long time and have always wanted to travel to these five temples in one trip for years.
Moreover, I used to think that 2 day-trip in 5 provinces must be very tiring. That's why I haven't done it before. However, after this trip is done; I can conclude that it is actually kind of perfect and it is a trip to temples that is not boring as it sounds. I would say that the tale makes the trip very interesting. So we kind of enjoy it along the way as well as a few nice extra tourist attractions along the main destinations.
Visiting temple is not boring and it is so much fun. It is not only a good choice of traveling for adults like our dad and mom neither. Every trip, every journey will be a good or bad one depending on how opened up you are.
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