Dec 10-24, 2012. We didn’t do much while we were on Koh Samui, an island off the east coast of Thailand. Actually we tried to do as little as possible. We swam in both the sea and the pool every day, briefly. We had massages most days. We wandered along the beach into town for breakfast or lunch or dinner or all three. If that felt like too much effort we wandered from our room to the restaurant at the hotel where we were staying, at the quiet end of a quiet beach. One night we were surprisingly social and had dinner with some entertaining English people we’d met on the ferry coming over. One day we went to see a really big Buddha. One day we discovered the Muslim fishing village and poked our noses around there. One night we went to the tourist night-market and ate street food. I did a lot of blogging; Don did a lot of writing and reading. We visited a temple or two. The most energetic thing we did was to get up early one morning to go to an alms-giving for a large gathering of monks. It was a quiet time. After India we needed it.

Traffic – Don’s photo.

Sculpture at our hotel – Don’s photo

There’s a Koh Samui that’s over-run with stores, bars, hotels, guest-houses, restaurants, cafes, massage businesses, and markets for tourists. We spent very little time there. This is the Koh Samui we discovered and loved:

A really big Buddha

A really happy Buddha

2600 monks

and one nun

came from all over Thailand to Koh Samui.
Many many Thai people, all dressed in white, gathered to give alms to the monks in celebration of the 2600th anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

There were many speeches, and chants, and prayers.

Then all the monks filed slowly down the lines of people, collecting the alms in the form of non-perishable food,

and money trees

Then it was all loaded into trucks, and presumably delivered to the monasteries.

And then everyone went home.

We were incredibly lucky to have found out about this event. We saw a small advertisement on the ferry going to the island with only one sentence in English – the thing about 2600 monks to mark the 2600th anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment. It seemed a bit preposterous. I didn’t really believe it – that there would be a gathering of 2600 monks! On Koh Samui! While we were there! Then we saw another advertisement in town. The (western) owner of the hotel where we were staying knew nothing about it. Finally we spoke to one of the Thai women who worked at the hotel and she knew about it and arranged a taxi to get us there for 7am. I’m so glad we were able to see, and participate, in this. It’s not everyday you get to see 2600 monks all in one place!

All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.