Day #138 - Diving into Waterfalls, Temples, & Rocks

Today was a day to go exploring! We had booked a driver to take us on a tour of the island of Koh Samui.

So following another lovely breakfast and a few dips in the pool, we climbed into another air conditioned mini-van to begin our tour. As always, our driver was exceptionally friendly and was able to suggest a lovely itinerary for our trip .
First stop was just five minutes down the road - the intriguing named Grandfather and Grandmother rocks. I hadn't researched this local attraction and just assumed it would be two sea stacks out in the sea - a bit like Old Harry Rocks in Dorset. However, what we discovered was the most disturbing rock formations I've seen. A case of once you see it, you can't unsee it!
Next stop was a little more traditional - a classic Thai temple. The red bricks and the intricate carvings were very striking, especially against the blue sky. The temple complex also had the most magnificent (but maybe also gaudy?) staircase framed by two huge cobra bannisters.
We swung by a Chinese style temple on the way to the next stop. The Chinese established the first city on the island and this temple is a reminder of their legacy.

Up next, another temple. This one is known as Wat Khunaram or the Temple of the Mummified Monk. The story is Luang Pho Daeng, a revered Buddhist monk passed away in 1973 and requested that his body be displayed as a reminder of life's impermanence. Remarkably, his remains haven't decomposed, and today he sits peacefully in a glass case, a testament to his devotion and a unique window into Buddhist beliefs about death and rebirth.
The sunglass were placed by the caretakers to hide the decomposed eye sockets to make the display less disturbing. A native gecko species once used the body as a hatchery, with eggs being laid beneath the skin! 
By now, the heat was really rising as the temperature was hitting around 35°c. So our next stop was most welcome.
Nestled within the lush, emerald jungle, sunlight filtering through the leaves casting dappled shadows on the forest floor, were the Na Muang Waterfalls. There were actually two waterfalls here, aptly named Na Muang 1 and Na Muang 2. We visited the nearer of the two, Na Muang 1. As we walked up the path from the car park, the sound of the water grew louder, and soon we were greeted by the sight of the waterfall plunging 18 meters into a crystal-clear pool. The force of the cascading water created a refreshing mist, perfect for cooling off on this sweltering hot day. It was a picture perfect paradise setting!

Our last stop was a spectacular one and definitely the most colourful. We had come to see The Big Buddha or
Wat Phra Yai as it's known locally. Built in 1972, the 12-meter Buddha sits serene in the Mara posture, symbolizing his triumph over temptation and the path to enlightenment. We climbed the 73 steps to the viewing platform, and were rewarded with a great vista of Bang Rak Beach and the view over the Gulf of Thailand.
What we weren't expecting was a jumbo jet to go roaring overhead to spoil the tranquil atmosphere! The temple is on the flight path of the local airport!
We arrived back at our hotel mid afternoon and so enjoyed a well earned lunch and pool time with a little siesta thrown in. An end to another amazing day.