Feeding the turtles at Wat Prayun

Yesterday we went to Wat Prayun (properly Wat Prayurawongsawas Waraviharn), which is on the other side of the river – you see it just after Memorial Bridge and before Wat Arun. It’s not really on most tourist routes, but it’s been recently renovated, and it’s not very hard to get to, so we took the express boat to the bridge and walked across.

The white chedi is really nice, though I didn’t get any good pictures of it, partly because it was a gray day. Also we were quickly detoured into Turtle Mountain, a garden that’s part of the complex which is full of turtles, which have been released to make merit. (Some information on the turtles can be found here.) It’s a peaceful place early in the morning:


And it’s full of turtles, both big and small. Some of them have clearly lived there a long time:


And some are fresh and new:


(This particular baby turtle, unfortunately, may have come to a bad end. Harriet decided to put it in the water, where it appeared to have been immediately eaten by a catfish.)


The garden is full of turtles, both in the water and on land, and they seem to generally be pretty happy.

A monk gave Harriet another tiny turtle, not knowing about the fate of the last one:


For a small donation, you can get a little bowl of cut-up fishballs and a pointed stick which you can use to feed the turtles.


Not all of the turtles are interested in being fed this way – some are shy – but those that aren’t are maniacal about fishballs:


We spent a great deal of time feeding the turtles. Many of the turtles are extremely fat.

After a while, I convinced Harriet that we should look at the rest of the wat, and we climbed the stairs inside the chedi:


The interior is stark and nice:


Wat Prayun maybe deserves more attention than as just a place to feed turtles: there are many interesting things there, and it’s a beautiful structure in general. There’s a tiny museum with Buddha figures found during the recent reconstruction; it was also Thailand’s first public library.

The neighborhood’s interesting as well. Just past Wat Prayun, there’s the Portuguese church, Santa Cruz, which has been there for a long time, though the current church only dates from 1916 and isn’t that impressive. There are still the remnants of a very old Portuguese community; we went to a bakery and had their traditional cakes (khanom farang kudichin), which are, honestly, not very good.

We spent a lot of time getting lost in the twisty streets around here, looking for an old Chinese shrine, which we eventually found. Google Maps says the name of this is
Kian Un Keng, though I don’t know how accurate that is:


This is not what we first saw, because we managed to come in through the back door, which is considerably less grand, though you do find the toilets much faster. Either because of this behavior or the way Harriet was dressed, some of the worshipers decided that we must be French and were astounded when we were not. Then there was a lot of confusion because we couldn’t get out the back door and thought that we would be trapped in here forever; eventually, we realized that you could go from the front directly to the river, which would have been a much simpler way to get there from the beginning.

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