Chiang Mai was a new experience for me, it was my first time arriving in a city and not meeting up with people. I was on my own for a few days and pretty tired so my exploring was kind of tentative.
I wandered round temples and explored markets a little bit at a time. I tended to just go out for an hour or two and then spend an hour or two in my hotel room eating and watching TV.
It's interesting seeing the contrast in Buddhist temples across parts of Asia though, Thailand's temples are extremely lavish and ornate, ridiculously so. Around ever corner there was a gold and red covered temple.
I was a little surprised though in one temple as I saw a young monk (probably about 17) pretending to ride one of the animal statues in the gardens he was supposed to be cleaning. I guess I didn't have an image in my head of monks misbehaving but there are a large number of very young monks in Thailand as many men will become a monk for two months. This is because it's seen as a sign of good luck, it makes them better marriage material and in some cases can help people get out of military conscription. There's also a lot of very young boys who's families send them to become monks to get an education that they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford.
Thailand was an eye opener in terms of looking at a slightly different Buddhism than the one I'm used to. I say used to I mean I read a lot of books written by monks (mainly Thich Nhat Hanh) and attend Buddhist centres here in the UK where of course things are going to be different to Thailand. But I always thought that becoming a monk was considered a life commitment but in Thailand it's considered a good thing to do at least once in your life, if you're male that is.
Even coming from India and Nepal (where Buddhism isn't the primary religion) there was a big difference in the temples especially and in the monks I saw.
I even saw quite a few monks in Thailand with mobile phones and tattoos and though the tattoos weren't a huge surprise I was wondering what a monk might be doing with a smart phone. Guess I'll never know.
Anyway I hope you enjoyed this little travel post, I have a video from my temple visits below and soon to come is lots of Elephant videos. Until next week!
Thanks for reading!