This is the culture post as we took our first foray around the temples here. Chiang Mai was the capital of the old kingdom of Lanna which eventually merged through war and through treaty with the other kingdoms to form Siam. Siam is believed to come from the sanskrit word meaning very brown as the peoples of northern kingdoms were seen as that by the other tribes . By European standards none of it is very old 12th and 13th century and most of the temples and monasteries are younger than that period but they are impressive.
Chianf Mai has quite a bit of the old walls left and you enter the royal road through the main gate
Disappointingly the royal street is mainly motor car dealers and you search out the temples that lay back from the road. They are all in what are clearly working monastries though we were there at lunchtime and the monks were not much in view. The halls of the temple are impressive
Like entering churches in the UK or in Italy everyone takes on a serious look and everyone talks in hushed tones when inside and really only starts talking again once they have their shoes back on and are outside again. If you think the inside is ornate the outside of most of the temples is amazing
Alongside the temples are normally either a big bell or rows of little bells like these
Bells are very significant in Bhuddism as they represent an offering to the buddas to accumulate more Karma but also signify wisdom. . The ringing of a bell helps with ones wisdom. so i gave them all a go but according to Geraldine with no change at all.
They also have so pretty impressive dinner gongs as well. Imagine this in the hallway at home
Do you think the monk hitting it looks a little like the guy that used to introduce all the Rank films and advertisements in the cinema ?
Clearly the guys building these temples had a sense of humour and they often put some fun stuff around the outside just to lighten the mood no doubt.
The whole of the old walled city is dotted with these temples and monasteries and “doing” them all must take a few days . I have never really been a temple person but there are a couple more biggies to do over the next six days before we head off for our jungle experience.
Plans are slowly coming together which is surprising for me as I am more the blue sky big picture type or at least that is what i always told people i worked with. Detail is boring.
That said we have 5 days in the jungle then 3 days in Bangkok and on the 5th of December head off to Vietnam. We are doing visa on arrival and the guy that has organised the first 2 weeks in Mui Ne has sorted it all out and I have a letter to show the immigration guys .
We met a couple Brits today by the pool ( oh come on i can’t be going around temples all the time) and they know and love Baan Krut ( see earlier posts ). It’s always a small world because not only that by they have been managing a camp site in Puglia this summer on behalf of a French company and loved everything about the place. In fact she had serious tomato withdrawal yesterday and told how she went to Tesco to find some. Tesco I asked? Oh yes there is an huge one just around the corner from this hotel . The things you find out. mind you no guesses were we are heading tomorrow morning.