Herman Nootix in Thailand
Herman: Welcome to Bangkok. Let’s contemplate the wonders around us.
This entire building complex is the Grand Palace, home of Thai kings since Rama I in 1780. Back then the king had dozens of wives, and they all live within these walls with their children and servants. Royal daughters stayed here from life, but sons left when they became teenagers. Only one adult male was allowed inside; the king. After all, he made up the rules.
You’re looking at Thailand’s holiest shrine, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Buddha statue inside is really carved from jade, not emerald. And no one knows who carved it. Back in the 15th century, lightnings struck a tiny pagoda in northern Thailand, cracking it open, and revealing the 2-foot tall structure. Now it sits on top of a huge guilded throne, presiding over elaborate religious ceremonies, all year long.
All the splendor is lovely to look at, but it’s not the whole story. Most people in Thailand are farmers, living in small villages and working the land. Their country’s name means “Land of the Free”, and for good reason, it’s the only nation in Southeast Asia that’s never been ruled by a foreign power.
Thailand’s people have practiced Buddhism for more than a thousand years, but before that the people were mostly Hindu. You’ll find Hindu symbols and statues in many Buddhist temples, especially here in the palace complex. Fascinating thing about Thai Buddhism, it didn’t try to replace the religion that came before.