Thursday, February 25, 2010

Buddha’s Footprint on Khao Kitchakud

Buddha Footprint at Khao KitchakudI went to Khao Kitchakud in Chanthaburi Province last weekend and it was quite an experience! Access to the Buddha's Footprint area is only open for two months out of the year in February and March. I later understood out why… the heavy rains of the remaining part of the year here in Thailand would make this trip nearly impossible.

I began the experience in late afternoon after a rain and from the very start of the trek up the mountain it was an experience. The trek started with a truck ride up this very steep mountain road. The drivers were quite expert at driving the winding switch backs, with the trucks switching sides of the road to let other trucks pass from the other way. On the way up we entered into the clouds that surrounded Khao Kitchakud (Khao meaning mountain), making the experience all the more magical. At the end of the truck ride the hike began. There was thousands of Thai Buddhist there taking the hike with me, sprinkling yellow flowers along the trail. The trail was steep and the going not easy but there was Thais of all ages, from children being carried to Thais that were quite old. But no one complained for the Buddha Footprint was the goal. And keeping with Thai tradition there were hockers selling their goods all the way to the top of the mountain, including food and water from the thousands of hikers. There were also many Buddhist traditional things to do such as ringing Temple bells placed along the trail.


Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud
Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud
When I arrived at the Buddha Footprint area the sun was setting and there were Monks praying and offering blessings for all who made it. And most did make, with family members helping the young and old, there were no complaints and plenty of help. The Footprint area was as dramatic as the trek up the mountain with a giant granite bolder above the Footprint, seemingly magically held in place by an invisible Buddha Hand. The remaining yellow flowers were placed on Buddha's Footprint, obscuring it from a good view. I found out quickly that the Buddha Footprint area was not the final destination and the trail continued up the mountain and I walked into late evening, the skies had clear and many stars were to be seen. At the end of the trail there were monks offering another blessing. On the trek down I stopped again at the Footprint area for some soup and spiced meat which we delicious.


Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud
Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud

I was the only westerner (farrang) on the trail and I received many greetings on the way up and down. 


By the end of the day the skies cleared and I got to experience the most amazing sunset from the very top of Khao Kitchakud.


Buddha Footprint at Khao Kitchakud

You can find more photos of my experience on this mountain trek by clicking here…

For a look at the location of the Buddha's Footprint see the Google Map link below..

View Khao Kitchakud in a larger map


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