Bangkok, Oct. 19 (Reuters): Thailand’s ancient Buddhist splendour left President George W. Bush almost lost for words today during his state visit to the southeast Asian kingdom.
“Inspiring,” Bush said after a whistle-stop trip around the stunning Temple of the Emerald Buddha — known as Wat Phra Kaew in Thai — in the teeming heart of the capital, Bangkok.
In deference to local custom, the President took off his shoes to tour the 200-year-old temple, which dates back to the founding of Bangkok in the days when Thailand was still called Siam.
Hand-in-hand with his wife Laura, Bush walked round the complex of more than 100 brightly coloured buildings, their golden spires glittering in the midday sun. The Emerald Buddha itself, a 75 cm high statue made of jasper not emerald, lives in the central temple inside a glass box perched high above heads of visitors and worshippers.
Mystery surrounds the statue’s origins, although it is believed to have been the cause of several wars before ending up in Bangkok for good when the city was founded in 1782.
Thai police arrested the mother of an abandoned baby boy named Apec who was clinging to life on today, five days after he was found wrapped in plastic bags in a rubbish bin.
Named after the Asia-Pacific summit meeting by the policeman who found him, the child was unconscious after being deprived of water for days. “The child’s vital signs are weak, his brain functions look to be substantially impaired and he needs help breathing with a respirator,” Surapee Ruangsuwan, director of the Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, said.