A Naga guards the entrance to a small temple in an equally small village some way outside the little town of Pai, in rural Mae Hong Son Province. The Naga, as I understand it in my limited grasp of Buddhist tradition, is a water spirit in the form of a serpent (not a dragon, although it certainly strongly resembles the Chinese dragon, sans claws). They can be found in pairs guarding the entrance to most wats (temples), facing outwards and in their humping snakiform (is that a word), one on each side of the stairs to the door. I believe they serve a similar purpose as gargoyles do in traditional European churches- namely, to scare the living snot out of small children.
I had a nice little time exploring and photographing the environs of this wat. It was a gorgeous afternoon and the contrast of yellow on blue made for some strong images. One of the delights of casual travel is exploring and coming upon little treasures just by happenstance. In this instance, I was just tootling along the byways of Pai on my scooter and happened to swing through this little village, catching sight of the temple as I passed. No plans, no real goals, just exploring. It’s the sort of travel I love.
I half like this picture, and half don’t like it. On the one hand, I like the structure in the background, and the strong colours (again), with that depth of blue and the bright red and yellow- fun colours. The framing though has fallen a little flat- I used the wide-angle and tried to capture the little oranges in the foreground to bring out the similar tones in the temple itself- the reds and yellows. Unfortunately the oranges really were very small (about the size of a silver dollar) and so to make them significant in the frame, I had to get down low and close. This threw them out of focus, and also upset the overall balance of the shot. I’ve also managed to snag the front end of my scooter- a little careless of me, as it’s too little to add a sense of travel to the photo, and also too little to emphasize the colour- my scooter was also orange. In hindsight I probably should have taken a photo deliberately with the scooter and the wat- it might have told a nice story… The detailing on the temple’s architecture however speaks for itself. Really pretty to look at.
Very little oranges…
And the top of the roof in a little more detail. I like the textures in the roofing tiles, and those little gold squiggles at the corners. This sort of architecture really is delightful.
I have a few more photos from this temple, but that’s probably enough for now. Some other time I’ll post the rest. It’s pleasant to remember the gentle warmth of Mae Hong Son as we prepare for another smokey 38-degree scorcher here in Victoria, and the fire warnings shoot back through the roof.