Farang Guards and Red Shoes


Thailand. With over 40,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand, Wat Po is one of the largest temples in Bangkok. Home to the reclining Buddha we have seen, it also has numerous curious statues guarding the inner courtyards.

Here we see a Farang (meaning foreigner in Thai) guard who is dressed in Western style wearing a top hat. Very strange. What is even stranger to me, these statues were used as ballast on trade ships returning from China.

So what exactly is ballast? While it is used by ships to lower their center of gravity, by providing weight, it is also used by Formula One racing cars, hot air balloons, offshore drilling platforms, snow plows and floating wind turbines. Wow. I never really thought about ballast.

Race cars use ballast to help the car meet minimum weight requirements, ships use it to improve stability and maneuverability and of course the Wizard of Oz(my all time favorite movie)used it to launch his hot air balloon that poor Dorothy missed as she ran after Toto. Good thing she had her red shoes to get her home!