Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chiang Mai (continued)

Temples, temples EVERYWHERE. There is actually a school in Chiang Mai for Buddhist Monks. I saw a ton of Mini Monks running around with their school books. Turns out, Chiang Mai is a very important place for Thai Monks.
So to continue my story, we decided to look at the noteworthy Wats in Chiang Mai. Now, on a map the square in the center of Chiang Mai looks like a pretty reasonable distance. In reality... well, let's just say it was a lot larger than I had anticipated.
The city center is surrounded by a moat. (No joke). 

So we decided first to stop at a park. I love Thailand's parks.
That's me, chillin' at the park.
After the park, Kallia and I (Canadian I met on the Chiang Mai) made our way to the Wats. The first stop on our Wat tour was Wat Pra Singh formally Wat Lee Chiang. It has been an important Wat in Chiang Mai for 700 years.
Front of Wat Pra Singh

The next, by far, my favorite Temple. It is one of the most important in Chiang Mai and it is very obvious why. We arrived at the perfect time, just as the sun was setting.
Wat Chedi Luang

The entire temple was beautiful but my favorite detail had to be the elephants. There were only a few that are still in tact. 

It is 144 feet wide and 282 feet tall. It was originally the home of the Emerald Buddha which is now in Bangkok in Wat Phra Kaeo next to the Grand Palace. 
Kallia and I noticed a sign advertising "Monk chat" everyday. For some reason I can't remember (probably being raised Catholic) I assumed that the Monks took a vow of silence. "Not true" says the Monk we were chatting with (unfortunately I never got his name). When asked if we, as women, were allowed to talk to them on the street he replied "As long as the Monk can speak English." Har har. So we sat for a while and talked with the Monks, they told us about their daily routine, how they are still at University and told us a few parables that are supposed to encourage us to work through our problems, not to take the easy route and to never be lazy. At the end of our chat I asked if I could have a picture. And that's how this happened:
The most awkward photo of all time.
The next temple we saw was the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and, like the Wat above, showed how important the Elephant is to Thai culture as well as the Buddhist religion in Thailand.

This picture may be a bit low quality because of the lighting, but the importance of this sculpture is that the Buddha is surrounded by Elephants. 
All of the Elephants we saw on our walk was perfect inspiration for our trip to the Elephant Nature Park. 

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