By: Jas Mitch
Yesterday was a tourist day for us. We got up reasonably early (in holiday terms) and ventured out to explore the city some more. Upon our travels we happened across a laboratory at a local hospital! I couldn’t help but have a look (I asked to go in but I don’t think they understood me)…
(Entrance to the Laboratory. The whole thing was separated from the other buildings.)
The laboratory itself was only made up of about 2 or 3 rooms and very old equipment compared to what I’m used to back home!
The day was getting hot and neither Mitch or myself was feeling 100% so we ended up sitting for a few hours drinking juices at our new favourite juice bar in the old city, Fruiturday. We also found a local resturant known for its coffee art and couldn’t resist getting one with a swan on it.
Once it had cooled down a bit we decided to try to make it to the last few temples around town that we hadn’t seen yet. First on our list was Wat Suan Dok.
Upon arriving we drove round the corner to find a sign “Monk Chat” and we were there at just the right time!
This is something Mitch has been looking forward to doing since we arrived in Chiang mai however we had never been about to find somewhere that does it. Monk Chat is design to allow Monks (a lot of whom are studying English at Chiang mai Univeristy) to practice their english speaking skills, and for westerners to ask any questions we might have about what its like to be a Buddhist Monk.
There was a sign in sheet and a donation box just upon entering the building and then we were ushered into another room with a New Zealand guy and an Irish woman and sat on chairs in a circle surrounding a young monk (he was about 21). At first it was a bit awkward, just sitting asking this guy questions, but then his senior came along and we split up into two groups. We were with the more senior Monk (I’m not sure of his name). His english was very good and we found it much easier to chat, the conversation began to flow… so much so that we were chatting for nearly 2 hours (Monk Chat was supposed to have finished an hour before! and our Monk had university homework to finish that night!).
It was definitely an interesting experience hearing about their day to day lives, and how well travelled a lot of Monks are (He was from Bangladesh and had lived in Sri Lanka and Thailand for a long time, having left his family when he was 14), their beliefs and reasonings for becoming Monks, and their use of technology (the first Monk we met had a pretty fancy phone that rang and interrupted Monk Chat!). It was also interesting to hear our Monk describe his experiences with people coming in and arguing about beliefs during Monk Chat… I was incredibly surprised that people would come in with what seems to be some kind of agenda around pushing their beliefs onto these young Monks. I’m not really sure why you would want to do that! The experience itself was incredibly calming and I would think that would be completely disrespectful and inappropriate.
After Monk Chat officially ended we went to their Wat, Wat Suan Dok. It was the most amazing place made even better by the fact that it was pretty much empty and totally quite except for the bells and chimes on the Wat ringing with the breeze.
We sat for a while and took some photos of the planes taking off…
Eventually we called it a night… but not before being chased out by a pack of local dogs! Thankfully we were on our scooter, so we made a high speed, James Bond style exit dodging ravenous dogs.
Only 3 days left here in Chiang mai…