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Temple of the Big Buddha
For our final stop in Thailand, we selected the most popular shore excursion, the Temple of the Big Buddha & Monkey Demonstration. The temple is located on the small, rocky Fan Island. This wat or temple has become a major meditation center for both local residents and foreign visitors. Erected in 1972, the temple's centerpiece is a massive seated Buddha that stands 39-feet high.
Unlike most temples in Thailand, it wasn't necessary to remove our shoes before ascending the staircase to the large Buddha statue. There is a magnificent 360 degree view of the surrounding area from on top. After taking some pictures, we headed back down the staircase.
Since we had two more stops on this tour, we used the restrooms at the temple. They were like port a potties back home except that they didn't have traditional toilets, but Asian style instead. As typical in Asia, you need to have your own toilet paper with you.
We had time to browse the local gift stalls before continuing on to Wat Plai Laem.
Wat Plai Laem
Once part of the Temple of the Big Buddha, Wat Plai Laem is home to a superb statue of Kwan Yin or "Guanjin," the 18-armed Buddhist avatar of Mercy.This is a relatively new temple but the art techniques used in its creation are centuries-old and based on ancient beliefs. We especially liked our visit here as it was set on a lake which afforded some great photo opportunities.
After a short drive from the temple, we arrived at a local venue where we watched a demonstration of how monkeys are utilized in the agricultural production on the island. For centuries, monkeys have been trained to harvest the ripe fruit in Samui's coconut plantations. The agile monkeys are able to quickly climb the tall, slender trunks of the coconut palms and pluck the coconuts for their handlers.
We were there with another tour bus. One of the guides assisted in a coconut splitting demonstration. They explained and showed how they harvest the coconut milk and meat. We had some time to browse their gift store before boarding the motorcoach for the return trip to the ship.
Wat Plai Laem
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