In honor of David Beckham’s retirement, I am pulling a photo out of the vault of a small David Beckham statue on the main altar of a Bangkok Buddhist temple. This Beckham image, covered in gold leaf, is in Wat Pariwat (sometimes Wat Pariwas as the Thai transliteration throws an S in there for what non-Thais might say is a T sound). Situated on the right side of the temple’s main altar, Beckham is holding it up with a long row of mythical figures.
This might smack a bit of sacrilege, but Thongruang Haemhod, the Thai artist who created it, got permission from the abbot to add the one-foot-tall Beckham back in 1998 when Beckham was still playing for Manchester United. (Man U is a very popular team in Thailand: so much so that one of the national beers, Singha, signed a three-year sponsorship contract with them in 2010 and extended it another three years in January 2013.)
Blasphemy or no, the statue remains and can easily go unnoticed by the casual visitor. So while Beckham is stepping off the pitch, he’s still shouldering the weight of the Buddha in Bangkok.
If you want to find the Buddhist Beckham, go to Wat Pariwat on Rama III Road along the Chao Phraya River. You can take the BRT Bus from its Sathorn Station (where it connects by a pedestrian bridge to the Skytrain’s Chong Nonsi Station) and get off the bus at Wat Pariwas Station.
Map to Wat Pariwat
GPS: 13.672952, 100.532928