The package I had at the resort also included a couple of day trips. In the end, I only went on one – a temple tour in Chiang Mai. It ended up being a bit of a quirky but fun outing.
I’m not sure if this is typical of the resort, but I was the only guest on the tour and I was taken around to the different temples by a member of staff, a young Thai guy named Birdy who was very sweet but spoke almost no English! So, I saw lots of gorgeous temples, statues and holy sites and know nothing about them – in some cases not even their names. 🙂
Birdy was very kind though and did the best he could with sign language and his bits and pieces of English. Mostly though, we kept the conversation to a minimum and I just took in the peaceful atmosphere of the places we visited. Chiang Mai seems to have at least three Buddhist temples on each block; even with further exploration with Roman, I’m sure I only saw a fraction of all the temples in the city. Birdy took me to four locations (many had numerous temples on the grounds) which I have to assume are among the most important/well-known in Chiang Mai.
So far I’ve had pretty consistent reactions to all the Buddhist temples we’ve visited on this trip – I just love them. They always feel so peaceful to me; very often the anxious pace of life seems to slow down to just the present and I can feel my scurrying brain start to calm down and my heart start to soften. So I loved the outing, even if I didn’t learn any history or cultural tidbits.
Here are photos from the temples I visited – without names. 😉
Beautifully decorated window shutter inside a temple
Buddha statue that devotees have covered with gold leaf squares
Detail of a massive, beautiful reclining Buddha. Buddha statues come in many different postures, which have specific meanings. Apparently reclining is symbolic of the Buddha’s entrance into Nirvana just prior to his death.
Chairs for monks during prayer. They are square in shape and quite large; my guess is that the monks sit cross-legged on them, but I never saw them in use.
I got a kick out of this poster of proper temple etiquette for Westerners. PDA and hot pants are not allowed!
Buddha sitting on the coils of a many-headed snake. The image of the snake is reminiscent of some statues and paintings we saw in India (see Vishnu’s hood in the pictures from Hampi for example. Our guide there told us that Buddha was one of the god’s many incarnations).
Stupa seen through the bars of a temple window. The yellow cloth wound around it has been signed by thousands of guests to the temple. Birdy and I signed cloths at some of the temples we visited too. 🙂
The garden outside on temple was full of these signs with words of wisdom. Loved it there.
Praying with incense and flowers in front of a stupa
Detail of an incredible mural inside one of the temples. One of my favorite animals – the water buffalo!
A clementine left in offering in the lap of a meditating monk statue