Siam Ngar, the largest Banyan tree in the region. Across the street from entrance are stands where you can purchase a token for luck, health, or wealth. These tokens are actually living creatures such as fish, eels, turtles, and frogs. The business model being that people come to buy these caged animals and them free them into the lake. Saviors! But in reality it is the desire to have the power of freeing a creature that creates the demand for these little aquatic members of the Earth to be captured in the first place. No one in our group bought into this industry. We speculated that some of these are re-caught in the same lake that people release them into.
Entering the Banyan tree was indeed transforming. The branches and roots together form a matrix of living, breathing, tree. Amongst this display of expansive wisdom are shrines. Each shrine dons a central figure, spirit house, and offerings from the visitors. Displayed around the shrine are the offerings of flower strands, statutes, candles, incense, and money. Some stop and pay their respects by bowing or making an offering and others walk by. I lit a candle for my dad. Couple walk among the banyan while holding hands, talking with friends, or concentrating on the piece of paper they will eventually tuck into a crevasse of the tree; in hopes that their wish will be heard. Everyone here is, in their own way, in awe of being in the presence of this old tree.