Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Floating Nun

After some more crazy times in Bangkok Eddy and I lobbed into Kanchanaburi, a nice sleepy town on the rather famous River Kwai. Here lives the even more famous Bridge over the River Kwai and the start of the infamous Burma Railway built by allied POWs in WWII. This we will see more of in the next few days but in the meantime Ed and I decided to hire a motorbike and check out some of the other sights in town.

Number one on my list was the floating nun. Just out of town at the bottom of a big mountain is a rather special Wat. It is home to the usual lovely temples, monks and nuns as well as one rather special nun. Years ago a buddhist nun decided to meditate while floating in water - this worked a treat and after she passed on a tradition was maintained.

When we arrived we were the only tourists on the site, rather unusual as apparently loads of Korean and Chinese tourists are usually roaming the place. All the signs were in thai only so Ed and I followed a long flight of stairs and walked into a cave all decked out with Buddhas. A guy appeared and asked if we would like to make a donation and then pointed in the direction of a very small hole - Ed and I climb in and start to crawl on our hands and knees into the cave accompanied by the odd bat whooshing over our heads. We were getting excited, the nun must live AND float in the cave! On and on we scramble before climbing a ladder and emerging in broad daylight at the top of the hill - nice view but where was our nun?

We climb back down the steps and there amongst some other buildings we spy a small stadium with a tank inside. Sitting outside was an enourmous thai woman wearing all white, with a piece of toilet paper stuck up her nose. This was our floating nun! As the sign above says the nun won't float for less than 200 baht so we waited to see if any other people turned up. After watching the nun pick at her nose and make a few calls on her mobile phone we finally decided what the hell, lets splurge and have a private viewing.

We step into the little stadium and take a seat (Luckily Ed is busy taking photos so he doesnt laugh). With little ceremony our nun lowers herself into the pool and off she floats striking different poses almost like karate. She seemed very buoyant, never needing to paddle her arms to stay upright, only her little feet were paddling furiously which made her look a bit like a little Hippo, but rather sweet. All in all the effect was rather hypnotic.

Just as I was getting into it a little man appeared and gestured that we should clap cause the show was over. Ed and I clapped a bit and without further ado the nun stomped off - odd, very odd.

As the sun set on the temple we puttered out of there on our bike briefly stopping to take a look at the fat Buddha at the entrance - suddenly out of a speaker at his feet the sound of loud hysterical laughing could be heard - I guess he was a laughing Buddha but it was just a bit too freaky after the nun so stepped on the gas and headed for home.


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