In the Thai language, a Buddhist temple, such as the famous Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok. Also in Khmer, I assume: viz. Angkor Wat. Sometimes spelled vat.

Wat are legion throughout Thailand, and can be large and grand - especially if sponsored by the royal family - or rustic and small. All wat in Thailand except Wat Phra Kaew house bhikkhu or monks, usually led by an abbot. Thai Buddhist monks lead a life of relative poverty; they are to live simple lives with few possessions and focus on meditation and withdrawal from the world. Thai monks wear orange or reddish-brown robes and, perhaps, sandals; certainly no jewelry or flashy goods. They live in simple rooms, sometimes with electric fans, and sleep on mats on the floor. Every full moon they shave their heads, and every morning they set out from the temple to beg for alms. They do not literally beg; they simply walk to the nearest community, and, if someone wants to make merit, they offer food to the monks. The monks do not look at their donors or thank them; in fact, in Buddhist economics, if you will, monks provide a field of merit where people can easily do a good deed and gain merit.

Some of the monks at Thai wat are really nehn, novices. Young boys are sent to the temple by their families, as this is the surest way for poor lads to gain an education. When these boys reach their teens they can decide if they really want to pursue a life of Buddhist contemplation, or just leave the temple and move on with their lives. People often told me that "every Thai man must spend at least 3 months" (1 rainy season) as a monk, though many men, when pressed, admitted they themselves had not done so. Still, it is a way for a simple man to gain in stature and respect. Monks are venerated, and even the king kneels in front of a monk. Men who have been monks are said to be "cooked" rather "raw", and to make better husbands.

In Thailand, at least, there is no ordination of women; those who live in the few wat that accept women are just students of Buddhism, not nuns per se.