Monks from Simpang Bedok Temple




Last week, I was taking my usual breakfast at a coffee shop in Simpang Bedok. I walked from my office at Tanah Merah MRT station to Simpang Bedok. It’s only a 10 minute stroll.

On few occasions I witnessed this unusual scene. Usually I’m quite engrossed with my own activities either reading the morning papers or checking my mail on my mobile. This time I decided to observe this phenomenon.

Two monks standing along the road-side just outside the coffee shop holding begging bowls. They were Thai monks from the nearby Thai temple just across Bedok Marketplace at Simpang Bedok.

As I sat at the table in the coffee shop waiting for my mee rebus, I observed the two simple humble monks with heads bowed. They did not solicit any donation nor speak a word. They just stood there patiently as if time stood still. They were in full monk attire graceful and simple oblivious to all the bustling activities around. I was curious.

I saw someone about to give $2 to them by placing in the begging bowl. The monk gently turned away and smiled. It was declined.


Notice that the monks don’t wear slippers. There is a trolley beside them to carry the donated food.




An Indian man from the roti prata stall in the coffee shop brought some rice and vegetables for the monks. The monks bowed deeply and accepted.

Next the Malay lady of the Malay food stall where I ordered my mee rebus came out with a bag of rice with some potatoes and more vegetables for the monks. They accepted from the Malay lady. She was so busy running the stall cuz she got no helper. Her husband was not around yet she stopped her work and took the trouble to deliver those items to the monks. My mee rebus was put on hold.

Myself and few onlookers witnessed this moving touching scene. It was a beautiful sunny morning with two serene monks accepting so many raw uncooked food items from the stall holders of the coffeeshop. The best part is that all the contributors are not Buddhists. The Indian stall and the Malay stall holders are definitely not Buddhists. They are Muslims. Charity transcends across all religious faiths. The act of giving is an universal virtue so much neglected in our materialistic society.

All the hype on the main stream media about ‘religious harmony and inter-religious and racial tolerance’ do not factor here. It’s of no relevance when one witnesses this poignant scene.

No words nor other forms of communication. When they saw the monks waiting outside their stalls patiently, they just volunteered to donate with whatever they could to give to them. No asking and no pestering. They give and the monks just accept. No words exchanged between the giver and recipient. No need for that.

Priceless scene!

I was touched and moved beyond words. Many past stories of syndicated begging monks were exposed in the mass media. They came and dressed up as monks to beg for alms treating it as a profession only to return with easy money solicited from well wishers. Not in this case.

I used to visit this Thai temple on Vesak Day by tagging along with my neighbors when I was a little boy. I’m now in my middle age and the temple still stood there with much more extensions and improvements. Needless to say it was very ulu in those days. Now it’s changed so drastically.

The temple set amongst those private residential houses. Almost any time in the temple there will be stream of visitors seeking blessings and paying homage. It supports a large community of resident monks there. Every now and then those monks would just walk around the neighbourhood seeking food donations. They don’t take cash. Just cashless donations in kind.

All kinds of people in the surrounding neighbourhood irrespective of their religious beliefs volunteered to donate all kinds of food stuff to them.

Will it die off with the passing of the older generation?

I hope not.

Will our children witness this touching scene in future?

I hope so.

I really don’t know.





About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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2 Responses to Monks from Simpang Bedok Temple

  1. I’m pleasantly surprised that the Malay lady gave alms to the monks. Normally, they should give cooked food early in the morning. The monks eat their last meal of the day just before lunchtime. Buddhist or not, the Malay lady can’t escape the merit. There are also Buddhist temples that give out bursaries to students from needy families of all races and faiths. These are all done without any guidance and endorsements and sponsorships from the authorities. Nobody scores any points from these impromptu activities. That should be the way.

  2. Toothfully,
    Usually two monks would come in the morning before noon with a trolley and another layman monk (not dressed in monk attire) to collect raw food such as uncooked rice, veg, cooking oil, salt or sugar from residents and shopkeepers in the vicinity. I believe they collect on behalf of the temple cuz there are many residing monks inside the temple compound.
    The Thai Buddhist temple belongs to the Hinayana or small vehicle different from the Chinese or Tibetan Mahayana school. Toothfully you have been to Nepal on last CNY the version is very much similar to the Tibetan where the monks are called lamas instead. Lama means teacher. I wish I could visit Nepal or Northern India one day to see for myself.
    When I was a kid, I used to live next to a Malay kumpung named Lor Ternak somewhere in Kaki Bukit. All races got along well. Even in those days we respected our diff faiths and religions. I thought its lost in our modern society. When I saw it happened recently where the Muslims donated so much food stuff to those Thai monks, it kind of triggered off my childhood memory of those kumpung days! Simple folks living together without any hidden agenda!
    Thks for your comments Dr Chan.

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