Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

   CHIANG MAI, Thailand

  SaWaDee”…..Hello in Thai

Located in the North part of Thailand, Chiang Mai is filled with hundreds of temples, big and small and a huge Night Bazaar where you can find everything you need.

Fun Fact:  Chiang Mai was built in 1296 as a walled city surrounded by a moat. The old city was roughly 1.5km square. There are still portions of the city wall dating back 700 years.  The original moat is still in use to this day. Chiang Mai city is basically made up now of the old city (within the walled area) and the new city which has grown up around it. 

We all HAD to touch the old city wall. And go through the Gate to the City, Tha Phay Gate, which we went through each night. Here we are walking toward the Gate.. IMG_2699The temples in Chiang Mai are extremely interesting.  They are still used today and people pray at the all the time.  There is a lot of detail inside and outside. There are a lot of monks here…old and young. The younger monks are there for school for a period of time and the older monks are lifelong monks.  Here is some younger students walking around the old city…IMG_1808 (2)IMG_1813 (2)IMG_2816Sawyer and I would always smile and they would smile back. As we were exploring the Old City there were students on a “field Trip” and they came running up to us asking if they can talk to us in English… They were all so excited to see us (not many kids speaking English here) and their teacher even spoke to us. These are 2 different groups of students we saw at 2 different temples on the same day. They probably had some sort of school project because they gave us an interview and asked some questions.   They took OUR pictures too and had us write our names in their notebooks.  IMG_1775 (1)IMG_1764 (1)

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There are very old and newer temples in Chiang Mai.  So interesting. The gold is very polished, shiny and tiled floors, the old temples are brick and stone with carvings. Of course there are Buddha’s in everyone of them. Not just one Buddha, but sometimes 100.  I noticed that the Temples have so many statues (unlike the Church’s at home where there is “one” main focus point, the alter). IMG_2809IMG_1793 (2)The older temples are great and walking around them you see a lot of carved detail and Buddha’s at every corner and also up on top. Some of the newer temples are shiny and polished with rugs and paintings on the ceilings and walls and you can enter and look around, even when others are praying. IMG_1778 (2)All of these temples are different. Each one is pictured with the Buddha’s image and statue inside but they are all from different Temples. IMG_2791 IMG_2769Mom and Sawyer. chiang mai thailandtemple Wat phra Singh. IMG_2778IMG_2783They really are amazing to look at. IMG_2770This temple had jade and other gem carved Buddha’s in it.  Different from the gold ones.

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Buddhism is NOT only a religion, it is a way of living your life.

•FUN FACT:   Is Buddhism a Religion?

To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

(1) to lead a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding

I have been learning a lot about Buddhism during my travels to Cambodia and Thailand, and it is interesting.

Fun Fact: there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought.

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In certain temples there were Monks (lifelong Monks) who were in some sort of trance, they sat all day, just staring and meditating. Barely blinking and very , very still.  At first you really believe they are not real, but if you look long enough you will see them breath or move so slightly.  Their hands are all different because each pose means something different. One monk was even in a glass box.  It was unhuman -like.  I don’t know how they do it??  They did not even notice the people in the room or the flashing pictures. IMG_2746These monks were also so still and seated together.  There were 4 more in back of them. Some had their eyes closed but still they were completely still.  IMG_1770IMG_2836This Monk is in a glass box, he looks like a statue.  He was completely still and I didn’t see him blink not once! I couldn’t even stay still while watching him.  It was crazy it’s hard to describe how still he actually was. What do monks think about when they meditate?

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We took the next photo’s outside while going through the Night Market, It was a different atmosphere at night, hearing the bells and prayers over the loud speakers.  Mom caught these boys playing video games at the entrance to one Temple…..Sawyer said they were probably playing Minecraft…IMG_1696IMG_1692IMG_2732We are putting Gold Leaf on to a newly carved statue.  Soon it will be covered in gold and placed in a temple somewhere in the city. The Night Bazaar was fun, we got foot massages every day.  I tried a Thai massage too, it was nice they do a lot of stretching and massaging.  We ate here every night and loved it.

IMG_2702IMG_2718 IMG_2715IMG_1781 (1)The bells are outside many of the temples and you can ring them if you want.  IMG_1789 (1)

We stayed in Chiang Mai for a week BUT we did not stay in the old city. We stayed 20 minutes away ($4 Tuk Tuk ride into town , free one way) because it was on a river and quiet and we rented an apartment with bicycles to use. It was cool. IMG_2853IMG_2691IMG_2697

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VISIT TO THAI SCHOOL:  We got to spend the day at a local Thai school in Chiang Mai.  The director of the school, spoke to my parents and he took us into each classroom to say hello to the different grades of kids.  They all asked us questions and some spoke to us in English. Their teachers were taking pictures of us.  Just like in the Cambodian school I attended, everyone was looking at us and interested in us.  We were the only American kids to ever go here.  It was cool.

IMG_1720The school was much newer than the one I went to in Cambodia.  They even had a computer lab and a teacher office.  It was still one room for each class, open air classrooms, and a field to play gym two days a week. Their desks were newer and they kept their supplies in them. Just like Cambodia, they still rode their bikes to school.  In this school in Chiang Mai there were mixed grades , different ages of kids in the same grade.  I guess it was because some kids start school later or don’t go every year.  There was a 16 year old in the 6th grade class I was in.  They all wore uniforms that were sweat suits. IMG_1730 (2)IMG_1729 (1)Here we are meeting the kids in grade 4.  IMG_1737the older kids asked us more questions.  On the board they had posters of the Months of the year in English and Thai.  IMG_1758 (2)Sawyer and I  got to play outside with the class. They played Dodge Ball. It was a good experience. Now I have been to school in 3 different countries….and hopefully more on this trip.

If you have any questions or comments you can email me at rileymeckley@yahoo.com        I will be happy to here from you and will write back when I can.