Thursday, May 16, 2013


Wat Tham Tapan. Heaven and Hell. Phang Nga Province

Some people believe in the terrors of Hell in the life hereafter.
Heaven and Hell are part of the belief systems of most (all?) religions.
I don't want to offend anybody who feels sure that these places, in some form or other exist; but I do feel that heaven and hell are useful tools for keeping the masses in order.
In Buddhism there is a belief that we get what we deserve....karma.
If we have created bad or negative karma it must be removed, so that a soul may grow in good or positive karma.
The belief system has 16 forms of Hell, known as Naraka. Being in Naraka is not permanent, but being there would seem like an eternity. It is believed it would take a very, very long time to eradicate bad karma. In one Naraka you would be there as long it takes to empty a barrel of sesame seed at the rate of 1 seed per hundred years.
So, best to behave!
We went to see a depiction of a Naraka below the temple of Wat Thamtapan.
We could have risen above it........but my karma must be negative, for my strength would not have allowed me to climb the stairway to heaven!
But we started in Hell.
Hell was depicted with many statues showing the terrible fates that will be used to help people eradicate their evilness.

Hell is entered through the huge jaws of a long green dragon.

Very dark inside the dragon.

A pair of evil crones emerge from the body of the dragon.

Beautiful trees can flourish in Hell.
I will take my strength and karma from the tree.

Between Heaven and Hell is a huge cave - a place to ponder on your own karma.

At this point, the young ones explored the huge cave. I wandered out and found myself alone in Hell.
It was slightly unnerving, surrounded by gruesome statues of pain and suffering.
I this had been my belief system. I am sure I would soon have been rushing off to the head monk, promising him all my wordly goods!

The stairway to Heaven. Jamie and Mam preferred that I didn't attempt the climb.....and even worse, the descent.

This was such a bizarre place......just there in the middle of rural Phang Nga.
Nothing had been done up for the benefit of any tourists.
No gardens.
In places it was quite tatty.


It had not been Jamie's first visit. Here is an account that was used by The Phuket News.