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February 2019: Stamford School, Indonesia

Temple Hunt at Wat Ban Den

Stamford school took on a new activity at VSP this year – orienteering around Wat Ban Den, one of Northern Thailand’s most impressive temples.

The Stamford students were split into four sub-groups, who then competed against each other for a grand prize of several colourful Lisu Hill Tribe hats. The groups were each given a card with images showing architectural features from somewhere around the temple complex. They had an hour to find as many features as possible and then mark the locations on a grid map of the site.

Of course, there were some rules to learn before we began, to ensure we respected the temple and its visitors while playing:

  • Be calm

  • no running or screaming

  • Shoes and hats off before entering the temple buildings

  • No pointing our feet at people or the buddha images

  • No selfies with the buddha images

  • No sitting on the ‘benches’ inside the wiharns (these are for monks only)

The groups set out eager to spot their first landmarks. Each group was accompanied by an experienced chaperone, who was on hand to provide hints if needed and information about the temple. Some features were easily spotted but many more offered a challenge for even the most eagle-eyed participant. The search covered the entire complex and invited students to enter and explore each of the different temple buildings.

Though it was a hot day, when the one hour time limit was up every group wanted to continue, so the students were granted an extra ten minutes to complete the activity. When extra time was up, the four groups gathered together at the central meeting point to discover their placing. Although none of the groups managed to find all twenty images, each group came close, with just a single point separating the top two teams on sixteen and seventeen points.

The winning team was thrilled with their tight victory, but everyone felt happy and relaxed after the activity. Despite the competition, the slow pace required at the temple and its soothing, reflective atmosphere made sure everyone finished the activity feeling peaceful and refreshed.

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