Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Chiang Mai!

We are now in Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand.  This is where Francie and I met up last year to begin our travels.  I really like Chiang Mai because it is a livable city with a lot of culture.  There are lots of Wats (Buddhist temples) as well as a McDonalds and a movie theater!  See Greg’s cravings to the right.

Chiang Mai is also known for the night markets especially the massive Sunday night market with hundreds of stalls.  This statue of Buddha overlooks the market.

Budda at Night Market

One of my favorite Wats is Chedi Luang.  This wat is about six hundred years old and has been damaged over the years by various wars mostly with Burma.  The main part of the wat seen below has elephants protecting it–elephants are a symbol of power in Thai culture (a few years ago Thailand passed a law freeing all elephants from manual labor).  Each of the archways has a golden Buddha and each staircase is protected by dragons.

Chiang Mai Wat

One of the sites in this Wat contains an 18 foot long reclining Buddha. 

Reclining Buddha

This was a small Buddha statue that I liked a lot because of its uncharacteristic color.

Green Buddha

Chedi Luang has also started ‘Monk Chat’!  Monk chat is the opportunity to talk with monks about their lives and about Buddhism (you used to only be able to do this at a temple outside of town). 

 Monk Chat

We talked with a group of three novice monks and one older monk.  We learned a lot from the monk’s including:

  • The novice monks were 18-20 years old.
  • They had been studying Buddhism already for about 5 years.
  • They were from all over–one was from Chiang Rai.
  • The novice monks were in high school where they take classes alongside of regular students.
  • Older monks specialize in one area such as buddhism, psychology, society and something else I forgot.

Francie, the devil she is, also asked the question of whether they always wore their monk robes (for example, did they wear them to high school?) but they got in a flutter because they thought she meant do they wear them all the time such as to bed.  There was this great little moment where I was like ‘oh no, she isn’t asking anything improper’.

Tomorrow I am going to venture out and get a haircut and maybe we will talk about our first Thai lessons.

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February 16, 2007 - Posted by | Travel

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