My feet are covered in flecks of gold.
In the temples here you can make a donation (/buy) a package of things to make an offering to the Buddha.
My package of offerings today included:
A lotus flower. A bud, not a bloom. Many women fold back the green stiff petals into beautiful decorations.
3 sticks of incense.
And three little slips of folded paper.
I didn't know what to do with the paper. I couldn't read the writing on it. I couldn't see where people were leaving them. I thought maybe people were rolling them up and leaving them as prayers somewhere, but I couldn't see where.
Unlike many temples there wasn't anyone here who spoke English so I had to rely on polite pointing with prayered hands.
Eventually I realized what it was for...
Before you enter the temple you take off your shoes (and socks if you are silly enough to wear them in this heat, as I was.)
Then you gingerly and briskly walk on the hot stone steps until to reach the shade of the temple.
In front of the many Buddha statues you kneel down, with your hands in prayer. You bow your head to the ground three times and each time your head reaches to the floor you move your hands from prayer to flat on the ground on either side of your head.
Some Buddhas are covered in gold. Some, of course, are beautifully cast in gold but this is different. The grey and white stone Buddhas are covered in gold flakes.
On either side of these Buddha I see large bowls full to the brim of crumpled up paper.
I gently open the little sheets of paper to discover there is a small square of gold leaf inside.
I bow, pray, and press the gold to the seat of the Buddha.
I am not an expert. It gets on my fingers, it flakes off, it's messy, it's beautiful.
I continue my walk around the temple, kneeling to pray in the more quiet rooms, standing in silent awe of the 4 story tall gold Buddha that takes a dozen men to drape with the offering of robes. (Another story!)
As I leave the temple and begin my hot and ritualistic hunt for my shoes I see my feet are covered in gold.
The soles of my feet, like the seat of the Buddha.
I find my shoes, black and hot, slip on my socks and walk back to the car, happy to take a little of the glow of the morning with me for the rest of the day.