White House Press Pool 1

Subject: Travel pool 1// Wat Pho Royal Monastery


Motorcade departed airport and made the trek along wide open highways into
the center of Bangkok, then past the Government House which was decked out
in bunting and a large sign reading "Welcome to the Honorable Barack
Obama." We arrived outside the Wat Pho monastery, a colorful and ornate
Buddhist temple in the Phra Nakhon district. Pool was led to the open
archway of a room with a golden Buddha and dark marble floors. This was the
Eastern Viharn Phra. A faux tree towered behind the statue and the ceiling
was painted red with gold medallions. A few minutes later Head Monk Chaokun
Suthee Thammanuwat, wearing a bright orange robe over one shoulder, led
Potus, dressed in dark gray suit, and Sec of State Clinton, in royal blue
pantsuit and gold necklace, into the room. Pool could not hear what they
were saying as they circled the Buddha. The monk appeared to be explaining
things for a few minutes before they left. Pool was then taken to another
large hallway dominated by a huge reclining gold Buddha, which streched the
length of the building.This was the Viharn of the Reclining Buddha, and we
were instructed to remove our shoes before entering. Again the monk led
Potus and Clinton for a stroll past the giant figure, which dwarfed them
all. Our third stop was in the courtyard where the trio strolled past a
number of colorful spire-like columns. This was the Phra Maha Chedi Group.
The place was empty of tourists for the president's private tour. Pool
overheard Clinton say: "What a peaceful place," and Potus responded: "If
you have 80,000 people here it's not so peaceful. This is kind of a treat."
TV picked up Potus making a joke about the budget, saying to the monk "yes
we're working on this budget, we're going to need a lot of prayer for
that." And they laughed. Motorcade left about ten minutes later,
headed for the hospital to visit the king.
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