On Tuesday I decided to do something very British—I went for a walk in the rain. With my partner strolling along at my side we explored parks and desolate rail tracks covered in scraggly vines. We wandered through shrubs and slipped through squelching mud, climbed bridges and jumped over puddles. Despite only wandering slightly afield we found an adventure and the most unlikely of thoughts popped into my head.
On The Topic Of Walking
As I once found in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam (Thailand)—walking is the best form of meditation. After all, as living creatures we were built to move.
A recent Stanford University study found that people enter a more creative mindset when they are walking or just came back from a walk. It doesn’t matter if the walking was done inside on a treadmill or out under the open sky.
Every culture I’ve rubbed shoulders with has demonstrated an understanding of the importance of ambling.
Where it’s most emphasized within each culture though is rather surprising. It seems we most rely on walking when we are embarking on spiritual journeys.
Whether it’s setting out on a pilgrimage, circling the kaaba during Hajj, climbing to a cave temple (or even just climbing a mountain), strolling around a stupa, parading around town with deities or trekking across a country I think everyone has experienced this phenomenon to some degree.
Walking, walking. Thinking, thinking.
Now I’m certainly not saying I found god among the shrubs or realized my life’s purpose as I blinked away the misty rain that day. The above thread of thought was a hair that got caught in the wind and flung from the root story.
No what I found was something far less profound.
“So what came out of your brief adventure yesterday missy!!” you may be itching to ask.
Well let’s see… I got…
And this question eventually lead to Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu (hah say that 12 times in one breath).
Stay with me. I’m not jamming the keyboard at random I promise.
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, man I get tongue-tied just looking at this word, is the name of a hill in New Zealand. Written in Māori, an eastern Polynesian language, the name translates to:
“The hill of the flute playing by Tamatea – who was blown hither from afar, had a slit penis, grazed his knees climbing mountains, fell on the earth, and encircled the land – to his beloved”.
This name is the longest “single word” place name in the world at 85 letters.
2nd Place Goes to Llanfair-ly New
There is a large village in Wales which claims the world’s second longest single word place name at 58 letters.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch means St Marys Church In The Hollow Of The White Hazel Near To The Rapid Whirlpool Of Llantysilio Of The Red Cave.
Ah, the UK dwellers and their amusing tradition of keeping names that describe the area. In Canada most of our city and street names are WAY less descriptive (and ludicrously long).
Now here’s the funny thing about Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (copy-paste to the rescue!).
The village changed its name to this current extended version in the 1860s so it could snap up the title of Railway Station With The Longest Name In The UK.
Basically, it was an early example of a publicity stunt to attract tourists.
Tut, tut… But wait!
City Of The Angels (Not Los Angles).
If spaces are allowed then Bangkok’s official Thai name trumps Wales and New Zealand’s claim at 163 letters.
Next time you visit Bangkok remember to call it
Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.
The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.
Or for short Krungthep—City of the Angeles.
Here’s a song that helps Thai children learn it. You can hear it alone here.
Well, I certainly picked up a bunch of interesting new information from the question that spouted from my walk! Hope you learned some new things too.
Then I can call it a very productive stroll indeed.