I realise that most people come to Bangkok with the idea that Bangkok is just as big as the Khaosan area, and the rest of Bangkok is rural. Obviously, it is not true, and you must stay a bit longer to actually see how big Bangkok is besides looking at it on the maps. However, indeed, many travellers have chosen to stay in Khaosan area and visit most tourist attractions around there. In the middle of the most touristy neighbourhood, there comes a small village which is just a few steps away from the Golden Mountain called Soi Ban Baat. There, the tradition of making monk’s bowls have been passed on to many generations.
Early every morning, monks leave their monasteries and silently walk around to collect alms from the residence. I first got to know this ritual activity from Luang Prabang and following the cultural exploration in Bangkok by walking on the street and observing a group of monks starting their day in procession. It is certainly a beautiful ritual which is worth to see.
Monks always carry their bowl around to collect food for the day. And these bowls might not be noticed often but they are hand-made from this one particular village which is located in the old town of Bangkok. Nowadays, there are many of these bowls being made in a mass production. However, this village has continued their tradition in the making of monk’s bowls. The beauty of it is that Ban Baat is the only one of three villages that King Rama I helped to establish still remaining.
It could take a whole day to produce one monk bowl. It needs to go through different step of hammering and flattening. A frame for the bowl made from steel is first designed in different shapes and sizes in a cross shape (which represents the cardinal directions). Then, they are patched with individual pieces of steel and welded to the frame. The steel bowl is now ready to be hammered into shape. The last step is to polish and protect with lacquer. The process is illustrated in the village and you won’t miss that. In fact, it is easier to understand this process by observing it in real.
Soi Ban Baat might be small but it showcases a great scene of the unknown culture in Bangkok. This is one of the things that is well-worth appreciated which not many travellers coming to Bangkok know of.