Another thing I was always confused about is how the chinese understand Buddha. I just came back from Hong Kong for a few days and the tour guide at the temple was talking about buddha being like a god and people praying to him and the bigger the incense stick the higher the prayer goes.
Well, one could also ask the question: who would one trust for expert advice and care in a hospital? The medical specialists there or the sales man that walks in?
This seemed pretty crazy to me. Buddha being a man (all be it perfected, but a man)
would help one understand what He said about Himself
There are lots of warrior type demi gods there too, are they boddhisatva or Tao? This the temple on the top of the mountain at the side of hong kong with the giant bronze Buddha image.
I am assuming you're talking about the famous Po Lin Ch'an Monastery
I am unsure of what 'warrior' iconography you saw but when I was there, it's standard to see a list of Dharma Protectors who look like Chinese warriors in any given Chinese Mahayana monastery, for instance
a. the Four Heavenly Kings
who are common to all Buddhist traditions,
b. the two commonly featured Skanda Bodhisattva Dharmapala & Jie Lan (Guan Di) Sangharama Bodhisattva who normally stand in the first exterior Hall of Protectors & the Great Hero Jewelled Hall (Main Shrine) and other shrine halls. (For a. & b., in some Chinese Buddhist monasteries/temple, they are all placed together with Maitreya Bodhisattva)
c. I can't remember if they also have another two fearsome warrior like Protectors who are normally placed at entrances of Chinese monasteries or in other places together in the Hall of Protectors, are regarded as emanations of one of the Chinese Mahayana's Eight Great Bodhisattvas, Vajrapani (who is also mentioned in early texts as a guardian yakka/yaksa) who takes the form of 2 fearsome yaksa protectors, Vajradhara & Narendra Raja
d. In another hall dedicated to the Eastern Pure Land Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru, He has 12 Yaksa Great Generals Protectors in His entourage as mention in one Sutra who are all what is depicted by the Chinese in warrior like armour and demeanour in local culture.
e. In some monastic dining halls, they would place another Dharma Protector, the Noble Kinnara Raja Bodhisattva, either as a stand alone or together with Maitreya Bodhisattva
f. There are other Protectors who can be traced in the Mahayana Sutras where their iconography are only seen in rare & classical Chinese Buddhist monasteries and temples, where the art form is typical of the Tang period, otherwise, points a. to e. are common. Japan, having a transmission of Buddhism from China back then, and having developed their own, still maintains these traditions until today.
g. In the case of Guan Di, as a shared Chinese legacy, the Chinese Buddhists generally trace back the inclusion of Guan Di to a now defunct but ancient & influential Tian Tai Sect, in a tale where a meditation master met up with this famed Three Kingdoms legacy warrior who was a hungry ghost looking for his severed head and after given a Dharma talk, this being agreed to take refuge and become a protector of all Buddhist monasteries. Personally? To me this is just another feature of adaptability as Cooran mentioned on customs and traditions. It's just another case one of who wouldn't want you around when you're a popular figure, kinda like I will not be surprised if the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta hasn't made it into the 330 million pantheon of Hindu deities
h. Some Chinese Buddhist temples/monasteries may include some popular Taoist deities, like in any Asian Buddhist community, as a 'concession' to the locals, not with the idea of propitiation as popularly believed by the masses to be worshipped but for them to create affinities with the Buddha Dharma and that they too would take refuge and become protectors besides respecting the local beliefs and culture. Their shrines are usually placed outside of the main monastery grounds although when I was in Taiwan, I have seen them placed behind the main shrine hall. Modern Ch'an monasteries are minimalists and thus one may not even get to see any of the listed Protectors. Since you mention about Thailand, I am sure you would have seen how even the Thais do the same in putting the local deities in the same monastic compound.
This my first post... not to serious just to chat
There! Have I overwhelmed you?