Koh Samui: Electronic Prayer Machines at a Buddhist Temple

Khao Hua Jook Temple is one of several Buddhist temples scattered about Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island. While among the smallest, the temple is also one of the most popular because of the great views it offers – among other attractions!

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Electronic prayer machines at Khao Hua Juk Temple in Koh Samui, Thailand. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Originally published on 27 March 2011, this post was updated and expanded on 22 April 2018.

At the beginning of a whirlwind “off the beaten track” press trip through the Southern Thai island of Koh Samui, we were taken to the Khao Hua Jook Temple, a.k.a. Wat Khao Hua Jook, one of several Buddhist temples situated in Northern Koh Samui.

We were taken to the temple not because it was the most famous Buddhist temple in Koh Samui. Surely the Big Buddha is much more famous!

We were taken to this particular temple because of its location.

Located 90 metres above sea level, the temple offers breathtaking views of the island and the sea, not the least of which is Samui International Airport, which the temple grounds overlook.

I’m a life-long aviation buff, so I enjoyed watching the planes land and take off at the foot of the summit.

Except for the occasional muffled roar of airplanes taking off and landing in the distance, however, the setting is serene, making it a perfect spot to meditate.

The views of the sun setting across Koh Samui Bay are another popular attraction, I was told.

For Buddhist devotees, the site is home to a sacred object: a replica of the Buddha’s footprint, which is kept inside the temple.

Electronic Prayer Machines

What fascinated me most about the temple, however, was not the spectacular location or revered artifact. I was fascinated by sight some object within the temple itself: some e-prayer machines!

I asked our guide how they came about, and this is what I was told …

Down through the centuries, devotees visiting the temple would shake prayer sticks in a receptacle until one fell out. A monk would take the number on the stick to determine their future.

Several months before our arrival, the monks at this particular temple decided that times had changed, and it was time to keep up with them.

So they decided to have to have  electronic prayer wheels installed!

Looking more like something you would find in a Japanese pachinko parlour, a gambling casino in Macau, or an American penny arcade, the electronic prayer machines accepted coins.

In theory, when you deposited one, the contraption would come to life, with little lights lighting up in rapid succession – a bit like an electronic wheel of fortune.

The monks would consult the number and read the devotee’s fortune.

To be honest, it was all pretty low tech. And when we tried to use one of the machines, it didn’t work. We tried another, and it didn’t work, either.

Turns out that none of them had been plugged in. I guess the monks were a frugal lot and wanted to save on electricity.

But when we enlisted the help of one of the monks in activating the devices, he was very happy to oblige!

Never a dull moment in the Land of Smiles.

To Be Continued

 

Where

Khao Hua Jook Temple – Khao Hua Jook Road, North of Chawent Lake, Bophut, Koh Samui.

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