About a visit to Bangkok’s city pillar
The dancer seems bored, so does the guy who is playing a monk. He falls asleep while the lady is making her traditional moves. She finds out what he is doing and walks to the back of the stage. Then she comes back with some papers and slaps him awake. What follows is a funny dialogue between the two of them. It leaves me wondering, is this part of the act?
Lak Muang is the Thai worth for city pillar. These are common objects in Thai cities. Most of them are placed in a shrine as they have a strong spiritual function. Bangkok’s city pillar embodies Phra Sayam Thewathirat (Bangkok’s guardian spirit). This object also marks the center of the city.
The pillar is standing in a shrine at Th Ratchadamnoen Nai & Th Lak Muang (The old part of Bangkok). The building is located next to the Grand Palace and a busy intersection. You can recognize this intersection because of the two large elephant statues, which are standing in the middle of the road.
Take the Chao Phraya river ferry to Tha Chang pier. From there you can walk in a strait line to Lak Muang, while you keep the Grand Palace on your right. After a while you will see the shrine on the other side of a large intersection. The walk from the pier to the shrine will take about five to ten minutes.
Remember that you march into a heavily touristic area. The Grand Palace absorbs everything in its huge gravity field. Many tourists and scammers orbit around it, so you have to overcome a few obstacles in order to get from the pier to the pillar. Certain problems that will most likely cross your path are tuk tuk driver and bird feeding man. Avoid these dodgy figures at any cost.
What to see
When I visited the temple I was lucky to see some people performing a lá-kon gâa bon (a traditional dance). The dancers wear beautiful colored costumes and a golden head piece. They sing, tell stories and perform dances, which consist of small hand and feed movements. While performing they are accompanied by people who play instruments, like a drum and a wooden xylophone (rá-náht-èhk).
Everyone speaks in Thai during the lá-kon gâa bon performance so it can be hard to understand the story line. However, I recommend watching it as it is a nice display of Thai tradition. Worshipers commission these kind of performances with the intention of earning merit. It is part of a series of prayers and offers that are being performed at this place.
Offers and prayers
People come to this shrine to worship and pray. Therefore, all kinds of praying accessories are available for purchase. The gods give you no excuse to say that you forgot your cash money as there is an ATM available. You can buy accessories like amulets, flowers and incense sticks. You can also purchase oil, which you have to pour in bowls. You offer this oil to worship the birthday of Buddha or to dispel misfortune.
Did you ever visit the city pillar in Bangkok? What was your impression of this sight?
- Tour Bangkok Legacies: A site which offers a lot of information about Bangkok. By visiting thinks link you can read Eric Lim’s detailed description of the city pillar.
- Virtual Tourist: This link will bring you to the Virtual Tourist page of Lak Muang. There you can watch pictures and read reviews from people who visited this sight.
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