UPDATED December 23, 2023

BY Henry Gold

IN Golden Buddha Ride

1 comment

UPDATED December 23, 2023

BY Henry Gold

IN Golden Buddha Ride

1 comment

Spreading the Seeds of Joy on the Golden Buddha Ride Cycling Tour


It has been a few days since the inaugural Golden Buddha Ride ended and you could say that the final day was an ‘executive summary’ of the tour. We cycled 30 km to where a boat awaited us and then we sailed to the heart of Bangkok. We toasted each other and the successful end of our adventure while the boat made its way among the river traffic on the Chao Phraya River.

Your boat awaits

I write ‘executive summary’, because that last short day had it all, well almost everything; good scenery, several impressive temples, a nice route through villages and back alleys, friendly locals pointing the way, even short sections of dirt road and dust, plenty of heat and humidity and wonderful camaraderie. In short, a typical day on our adventure…if you ignore the length of the usual daily rides, not to forget the climbs and the descents.

One of Thailand’s many Buddhas

For me however the tour didn’t really end until I paid a visit to Bangkok’s famous Golden Buddha, after all this tour was called the Golden Buddha Ride. You could say, why bother, as truthfully, over the last seven weeks, we had seen many, and I mean many, golden buddhas of every possible variety and in every traditional pose. In Thailand alone, a country of 72 million people, there are, according to Wikipedia, 41,205 Buddhist temples and we had a chance to see quite a few of them.

Henry, you and your team have planted so many seeds of joy. And they are spreading.

And so I decided to face the heat, the humidity and most of all, the many tourists and their supporting entourages, put on proper attire and see the Golden Buddha. Fortunately, the walk to my destination took me to some well-known points of interest to visitors in Bangkok such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho – where I caught a glimpse of the largest reclining Buddha in the city (of course covered in gold) – and Wat Phra Kaew, which is the home of the Emerald Buddha. Continuing towards my destination, I passed through a very colourful flower market and, not long after, found myself in the midst of a large Chinatown, where every type of commercial activity you can imagine was being transacted. To be frank, it was tough going through the narrow alleys, but I persevered.

Marching on, while beginning to feel a blister on the bottom of my foot, I knew – thanks to Google Maps – that I was honing in on the end of my 50-day quest. And then, just like that, I was standing at the entrance of the Wat Traimit temple, otherwise known as home of the Golden Buddha. The Golden Buddha, of course, is different than the other hundreds of golden Buddhas we have seen. For one, it is actually made of gold. It weighs 5.5 tons and according to Wikipedia its estimated value is US$250 million. And that just the gold content. If you add in the artistic value, we are looking at a hell of valuable Buddha.

Wat Traimit, Bangkok

What is even more fascinating is that this Golden Buddha was hidden for many years. It was covered with plaster for centuries and the reasons for that, the when and the why are not quite clear. What is known is that the statue originates from the 13th to 15th century Sukhothai Dynasty whose astonishing ruins we had visited only a few days ago. The stucco covered Buddha was moved to Bangkok at the time of King Rama III in the 19th century simply for the preservation of antique Buddhas and was installed at Wat Phraya Krai near Bangkok’s Chinatown.

When the Wat was falling apart, a decision was made in 1935 to move it to its present location and was kept there under a tin roof for 20 years while a new building was being constructed, not a soul being aware what kind of a treasure was lurking under the tin roof. In 1955, when the heavy statue was finally being placed on its new pedestal, the ropes broke, the statue fell and part of the plaster broke, revealing the pure gold.

Golden Mountain Temple, Bangkok

From the Golden Buddha I started my journey back, which took me to another city landmark, the Golden Mountain Temple. If you are ever in Bangkok you should put it on your itinerary. From there I headed to Democracy Monument, another one of those terms that seems to mean different thing to different people. Turning the corner, after taking a picture of what I assume is another Wat or a temple with beautifully kept gardens, I came across the Golden Coffee shop where I could rest my painfully blistered foot and drink a cold ice coffee. The coffee was good, though I thought that had it been served in a golden cup, it may have tasted even better.

I  continued along the wide boulevard called Ratchadamnoen (meaning Royal Passage), built at the time of King Rama V in order to connect between the Royal Grand Palace and Suan Dust Palace. I noticed a sign which explained in Thai and English that originally the route was lined with Mahogany trees, but the trees were cut down for construction in 1941. Not even a Royal Passage can survive the march of progress. Thus ended my Golden Buddha Ride. Soon I would be looking out of an airplane window, being a little sad and thinking about the Buddhist teaching of impermanence of things.

However, there is one thing that will stick permanently in my mind, though it may not be very Buddhist. At the end of the last day’s ride Ann, one of the riders, came up to me and said “Henry, you and your team have planted so many seeds of joy. And they are spreading.” To Ann, and to all the participants of the Golden Buddha Ride, I thank you. All of you have enriched my life.


Golden Buddha Ride

Join us on our cycling quest for the fabled Golden Buddha. Our journey begins in the bustling modern city of Saigon and continues up the country's...


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Sealing off another epic Adventure.

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