Take the Sukhumvit highway – it’s a race track for vehicles and a potential death trap for motor bike riders. Needless to say, had to risk it to go anywhere ‘attractive’. First stop though, was a local monastery (Wat) – Tip said it was traditional to ask a monk to bless the bike for ‘lucky’.
Armed with flowers, gold flakes, and currency compensation, we pulled into a Wat - spacious grounds; lovely temples, very peaceful - and searched out the monks’ quarters. Wooden buildings built on stilts.
As an aside, Thai people seem obsessed with my age, and I wasn’t disappointed when an elderly couple who were gingerly descending the stairway – I helped them down – enquired.
‘68,’ I said.
‘I’m 86,’ said the man with a broad grin. ‘Same you, have power,’ and the smiling, well-dressed lady – she still looked good – wasn’t going to lose the opportunity, said 74.
After exchanging a few more pleasantries, and waving them goodbye to their parked Rolls, we climbed the stairs and walked along the passage to find a monk who would be willing to perform the ceremonial blessing.
At the end room, an ancient monk (about my age) wearing an orange robe was happy to receive us, and he seemed friendly and quite chatty (in Thai). We sat down on the floorboards in front of him, offered our gifts, and he said a prayer – I think – and made Tip laugh with some joke about me being a Buddhist Farang (I was wearing a genuine Buddha amulet – the Green Emerald Buddha (Wednesday) around my neck).
Then he dipped a bamboo brush into a bowl of sacred water and, with a practiced flourish, splashed water over our heads. Now us being cleansed, he handed me the bowl to carry and we all traipsed downstairs to bless the bike. He smeared a sort of paste on the front, peeled a gold flake out of its wrapper and stuck it on the rear, asked Tip what day she was born (Sunday), and pointed to the number plate.
‘Lucky number, had a 1 in it,’ she told me. ‘Must buy lottery ticket.’
Smiles all round.
He placed a garland of marigolds around the handlebars, motioned to the bowl, and I handed it to him. Splashing water seemed to be in vogue, and the bike was similarly cleansed.
Awesome – couldn’t resist it, ha, ha.