365 Wow Places & Wisdom
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It’s 6pm when, upon finishing dinner along Khao San Road, my wife, Donica, suggests we run over to Bangkok’s Golden Mount for a sunset view of the city.

Me: “Do you really mean ‘run’?”
Donica: “Sure, why not! We’ve still got time.”
Me: “So, let me get this straight. You’re suggesting we go back to our room, change into our running shoes and shorts, and then hustle all the way across town in like, 30 minutes, to beat the sunset?”
Donica: “Sounds great, huh?”
Me: “Hmm. Sounds like a production.”

When I was growing up, you see, my parents leaned strongly towards activities that were quick, easy and low stress. Anything that required an excessive amount of energy and advanced planning was deemed a “production” — shorthand for “more trouble than its worth.”

Not so for Donica, who comes from a more a “can-do” family history than I do. In other words, it’s not a “production,” it’s an opportunity.

What can I say? Happy wife, happy life, right? Before I know it, Donica and I are geared up and trotting across Bangkok, sweating mightily in the evening heat and humidity as we race the setting the sun to reach Wat Saket in the early evening dusk.

Built atop the only hill in the Thai capital, Wat Saket Ratchawora Mahawihan (usually shortened to Wat Saket) is a Buddhist temple dating back to the Ayutthaya era (mid-to-late 19th century). Interestingly, its name translates to “wash hair,” a reference to the king stopped who here at one point to take a bath and wash his hair.

The Golden Mount, itself – Phu Khao Thong – is a steep, artificial hill inside the Wat Saket compound – white-washed and constructed in cement during the 1940s. Wat Saket, the pagoda (or chedi) at the top, was completed by King Rama V and sanctified with a covering of gold. Like many chedis in Thailand, Wat Saket houses a relic of the historical Buddha, brought over in this case from Sri Lanka.

Although not steep, per se, the circular route up the Golden Mount is certainly taxing—especially if you’re on an urgent deadline. Up, up, up we race, the sky getting darker and darker pink as the sun rapidly descends toward the horizon. With a final burst, we reach the summit and bend over to catch our breaths. At our back is the gold-plaited temple, encircled with red banners and glittering in the last rays of the day. In front of us lies the Bangkok cityscape, crouching lazily at our feet under a big red orb – apartment buildings, skyscrapers, canals, traffic lights, red-rooved temples, and graceful Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) in the distance. It’s a stunning, stunning sight — well worth the effort.

And well worth “the production.”

(One of the common refrains I hear from my friends and family members is, “I only have a limited amount of energy, so I have to choose how to use it wisely.” I wonder if this is, in fact, a true statement. Is our energy really limited? OR do we limit ourselves with such thinking. I think I can safely say that we have much more energy available to us than we are currently manifesting, especially with our suboptimal, often-unhealthy lifestyles. If we could all just get more sleep and more exercise … if we could all cut back on the processed food and the sugar/oil/fat … who knows how many Golden Mounts we could climb, how many productions we could turn into opportunities.)