Look no further if you don't intend to travel a long way to Thailand just to visit a Thai temple. We have it right here - Wat Luangpo Koon Parisutto Wanararm or simply known as "Wat Koh Wanararm" a traditional Thai influence temple in Langkawi Island, Malaysia. It is about 1 hour by AirAsia to this holiday destination from Kuala Lumpur's Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).
It is a good alternative to travel by flight if you don't want to waste precious time on board land travel to Kuala Perlis and then transfer by ferry to Langkawi. Land journey usually by coach will take an ardous 8-10 hours one way (plus waiting time for ferry to reach the island from Kuala Lumpur). Once you are in the island, you can take the taxi service to Wat Wanararm by highlighting "Tokong Sami at Jalan Kisap". Literally it means Buddhist Monks Temple at Jalan Kisap road.
The perfect time to visit most temples is during the Vassa rain retreat as monks will mostly be staying inside the temple compound for 3 months. By far the Buddhist practice requires at least 6 monks to be in a temple in order for lay devotees to conduct the Kartina service (offering of monk robes) at the end of the Rain retreat sometime in October. I am fortunate to have met all the monks that I once knew are staying there during my visit.
Wat Wanararm is the branch of LP Koon temple - Wat Banrai in Thailand. We are very fortunate that Luang Po Koon had given his full support for Wat Wanararm to be built at Langkawi island following requests from many Thai-Malaysian residents in Langkawi. This good purpose had enabled many Buddhists to benefit the teachings of the Lord Buddha from the Sangha (monks).
Lay devotees offering dana "alms food" to resident monks of Wat Koh Warararm. Many children are of Thai-Malaysian parents although they may look alike any ordinary local Chinese. There are also Thai descendants living in Langkawi because of the near distance where you can reach Satun in Southern Thailand just by ferry from Kuah jetty.
All together there are 7 monks during 2008 rain retreat (Vassa Period). In total there are 6 Thai monks and 1 Malaysian monk. Before receiving the food from lay supporters, the monks will recide Pali Suttas for almost 30 minutes to all the devotees present. LP Khaw have very strict practice when receiving alms. He will ensure the giver will be properly blessed by him and the Sangha in return.
Since the humble beginning of this temple led by Thai Sangha Order, LP Khaw had led numerous alms receiving called "Pindabart" according to Buddhist teachings for the purpose of getting rid of attachment in oneself. At the same time it create opportunity for the givers to accrue meritorious deeds. The Pindabart alms round was conducted during 2010 rain retreat at Langkawi town.
Devotees paying respect before listening to the Pali chanting by monks. Cheerful laughter from the local children at the temple.
To begin with, LP Koon had appointed monk desciples from Wat Saikhao located at Muang District, Songkhla to head the Dharma teaching and support the people. The chief abbot of Wat Saikhao - Luang Po Parn had chosen Luang Po Khaw to represent Wat Wanararm. Since then LP Khaw had done some pretty impressive work between such a short 3 years to what it is today with the help from monks from all over Thailand.
Photograph of Chief Abbot of Wat Wanararm Langkawi, Luang Po Khaw whom joined the monkhood at a very young age at Wat Saikhao, Thailand. Deep inside LP Khaw is a very compassionate heart.
He showed me around the temple compounds during his routine visit to the Kutis (monk's hut) construction site at the hillside.
I will take readers to the surroundings of this temple and see if you can help out in any form of charity to contribute to the development.
The photo on the left is at the edge of the hill nearby the temple compound where you can see the small path leading uphill. The pathway was surrounded by trees and marble rocks.
This is the starting point if you intend to go into serious meditation. It was a bit slippery due to early morning rain and walking uphill is no easy task. I had to practically holding onto tree branches to pull myself up along the way.
This meditation site is surrounded by flush jungles and the environment is very serene. Surprisingly I can't find any sign of mosquitos. You can hear plenty of birds and insects sounds. The aura vibration along the pathway is very clear probably I was guided up by one of the resident monk Ajahn Udon.
Photograph of Ajahn Udon on the way uphill to the meditation cave.
At my request, Ajahn Udon agreed to allow me to take a photograph of him. I sense that he is a highly skillful meditative monk and very warm hearted depending on whom appraoches him.
Ajahn Udon is probably the most passionate monk regarding this forest meditation site. At the hilltop, I was taken into a cave hanging on the cliff. This is where Ajahn Udon would spend his meditative time inside. I was given the permission to enter this cave and you can see the big dark brown tudong umbrella hanging on top of the cave where it is also used as mosquito shield at night when Ajahn sleeps. Inside the small cave contains his belongings - a simple straw mat, a pillow and some personal belongings.
Inside the cave and looking downward view I managed to snap a couple of shots with my camera. And interestingly enough I managed to capture one white orbs appearing on the picture. I always thought that white orbs (see picture with red arrow marking) usually appears at night where there are holy persons around they will usually seek the Dharma or offer protections to the holy ones. But this time around I managed to capture it during broad daylight from on top of the hanging cliff. That is what I call mystical.
White orbs was captured inside photo revealing its travel from one spot to the other spot shown below photograph.
White orbs was captured inside photo revealing its travel from one spot to the other spot shown below photograph.
Anyway, the construction to make the pathway leading up to this meditation site is not completed yet and it is wholy undertaken by Ajahn Udon himself without help from outsiders. He is practically doing all the hard labor himself to make this a place for his meditation effort. He greatly need cements and bricks to patch the foot path in order to make a more comfortable walk up. I had donated some portion to him and hopefully others will also try to provide support for the realization of Ajahn Udon's goal.
Monks are encouraged by the Lord Buddha to seek solitude place at the hills, cliff, under a tree and thick jungles where those places are far away from people to practice meditation.
Left: Hand crafted Phra Pidta from wood
Just to show readers a little bit of the hanging cliff, you can see there is a makeshift ladder to climb into the cave at the hill top. There is a need to make cement steps where Ajahn Udon is standing for ease of going into the cave. Cement and bricks are greatly needed for him to accomplish the construction task. My apology this photo is not very sharp because I am not used to high altitude photograpy. Partly also because I was catching my breadth and standing on uneven grounds.
Apart from that, there are also wild mushrooms that I was informed this species can be made into medicines. Ajahn Udon brought me around the forest area near the cave to pick some mushrooms back and placed it into the pot for soaking off the sand and muds. Only Thai monks are experts in using natural herbal ingredients for curing diseases and health maintenance because they usually can't find doctor nearby whenever they are struck with illness.
He was bestowed the title "Ong Dam" for surviving the ordeal of malaria during his tudong days in deep forested jungles of Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Ajahn Udon specifically mentioned that he did not die from the malaria in which he had suffered. He was shivering in cold fever and did not take any medicine for 1 month and he healed by himself through preservation and mind training.
Ajahn also told me his story when he first made residence inside this particular cave. He was visited by a very large snake. He described to me the snake's diameter is around the size of a normal man's thigh. He also described that it was a very beautiful snake from the appearance of its skin tone. He then showed me inside the cave there's another smaller entrance where that snake used to lived until his arrival. He was not aware of this snake presence and during his meditation one day, that snake came from behind where he was sitting meditation and the snake hissed furiously to his ear. Without any fear he communicated with the snake to allow him to share the cave dwelling.
One night while he was asleep and sharing residence with that large snake, it went pass the side of his body without disturbing him and then out of the cave. In fact Ajahn was fully aware and gave space for the snake to pass through while he was lying down. The snake slit through the side of his body and rolled down from the hanging cliff. If you see that photo earlier, the hanging cliff height is quite high and the rocks are quite sharp with cutting edges. And yet according to Ajahn that snake was very skillful in getting up and going down the cave every time. Of course the snake did not use the ladder to climb.
One day, that very snake that have been sharing the cave dwelling with Ajahn gave signs and strange gestures to ask him to follow it to another cave entrance about 100 meters away. It's the intention of that snake to lead Ajahn to its new dwelling of another cave opening. It takes a very brave monk to accomplish what Ajahn Udon had done so far for the realization of Truth.
So far there are only 4 Kutis that had been built at the hill side of Wat Wanararm.
This small Kuti may look impressive from the exterior with its blue color zink roof and stainless steel walls. But if you take a look again, it's the left over construction materials that monk recycled from the Main Hall building construction at the temple.
Here is a photo shot of another small Kuti that was over shadowed by a large thick tree not far from the above one.
Monk's residence is very plain simple and yet it's very practical. I was impressed by their hard work apart from meditation duty and serving the community.
Photograph with Ajahn Sawang hard at work to complete his Kuti during this rain retreat. He can speak simple English and he is from Udon if I can remember. Ajahn Sawang is probably the most meticulous monk and likes to keep his place very tidy. His workmanship in carpentary skills for building up his Kuti is very impressive too.
I am very impressed that all materials used to build the Kutis are recycled from the nearby construction of the temple Main Shrine and LP Koon's building so that it does not go to waste. Other materials e.g. lights, floor mattress, etc. came in the form of donation from most lay devotees.
Other parts around the temple surrounding is the building of LP Koon (picture shown below here). It has a very rich Thai architecture design and it's beautiful. The construction of this building was completed not too long ago as far as I can remember.
Next, the picture below shows inside the newly completed Main Shrine or Ubosot. The large Buddha statue at the background was shipped from Thailand that is similar to Wat Raiking.
Below pictures taken in August 2009 are recent Phra Pidta creation by LP Khaw that will be placed underneath the big Buddha statue inside the Main Sermon hall. This batch of Pidta are all individually hand pressed using the mold made by LP Khaw himself. It is very common for Chief Abbot to leave behind their legacy for future generations to discover Buddhism treasures right underneath this big Buddha statue when the right opportune comes.
Apart from making Phra Pidta, LP Khaw is also famous for making effective Palakit for many years. There are various sizes and individually hand crafted from certain type of wood. The process of chanting, blessing and finally yants are inscribed into each pieces before they are being given away to devotees. It takes a long time to make these Palakits and always in demand.
There is also a very nicely decorated plush garden with the image of Lord Buddha sitting in serene peace. The whole place is serene and yet far from traffic noises although it is not very far from the outside civilization.
For more information or going to Wat Wanararm
Kampung Bukit Putih, Jalan Kisap, 07000 Pulau Langkawi, Kedah
Thank you very much to all Dharma Friends and readers for taking your time to read about Wat Koh Wanararm. May you all be always well and happy. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Wat Tham Kisap - Ajahn Thong Pao
Perhaps another good reason to visit Langkawi is the availability of Wat Tham Kisap for those serious Takrut collectors of Ajahn Thong Pao. This temple recently became popular when we visited it during the rain retreat in 2010.
This temple is located along Jalan Kisap approximately 3km away from Wat Wanaram. Look out for the small signboard at the road shoulder to direct you into the temple. The surrounding buildings in the temple was developed by Archan Thong Pao after the dismiss of his father whom is also a Buddhist monk previously resided in this temple cave.
Archan Thong Pao is still raising funds to make development for this temple. Ajahn Thong Pao is a Thai monk and he has a lot of followers and lay desciples from all over. From my understanding, he is famous for his Wicha and mostly 5" long Takrut that he made.
Ajahn Aod's body remains is undecayed and is kept in a glass coffin for people and visitors to pay respect and get blessings. Perhaps this is the wish of Ajahn Aod to express that the profound Dharma teachings is still attainable.
The temple counter offers plenty of votive tablets at reasonable prices for renting. We noticed that Ajahn Thong Pao highly respect LP Koon (from Wat Banrai) with a live-sized wax statue of LP Koon. The next time when you visit Langkawi Island, it is worthwhile to drop by for a visit.
May the articles here be able to provide you the bliss of general well-being and happiness. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
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