Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I hope y'all aren't too tired of the temple pictures, because I do have to post a few more...  These are all images of temples inside Chiang Mai, which we had neglected until the last day before we had to turn in the motorbike....

There was a sign at this temple explaining that the monks were reciting their disciplinary rules, and visitors were to give them their space.

I believe this temple dates to the 13th century.  Super cute elephants!

There is a cute story behind this monk, whose prior handsomeness caused too much conflict in his community, and thus he "changed himself into a fat, ugly-looking monk", according to the sign at the temple.

I'm not sure this is correctly translated...

I don't know exactly what this artwork represents, but the technique is stunning.

Flowers 'n pagoda.

Old base, new top portion.

This is very sweet!  I wish I knew who these figures were...

Not entirely sure who this is, but it is beautiful work...

The king of Thailand, when he was a young monk.

Harold gets contemplative outside of a temple where we have just had the impromptu opportunity to help a young monk with his (incredibly advanced!) English homework.

Well, readers, we are headed to the good ol' PRC (People's Republic of China), and I hear some websites, including Blogger, are partially or completely blocked within Chinese territory.  Therefore, if I am unable to post about our time in China over the next two weeks while we are there, I will do so from the subsequent destination of Vietnam.  Until next time, and may your days be blessed :)

I thought I'd share another photo (taken with our new sports camera!) of our bad#$% selves with the source of much of our fun in Chiang Mai: our motorbike, with which I experienced an emotional goodbye yesterday as we turned it in :(  Here we are outside our home for the last two weeks: a lovely, relaxing budget hotel located in the outskirts of Chiang Mai, where we have been able to clear our minds and process some of the incredible experiences we have enjoyed over the last several months.  I will share a few more photos before I head to bed early, since we will be rising at the ungodly hour of 3:45am to catch a train back to Bangkok and head to the airport for our flight to Beijing, where we are super excited to meet up with Harold's sister and her family!
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A cooking class was another must for Thailand.  We had a hard time choosing from the vast selection of cooking schools, but decided on a locally-owned one specializing in curries and pad Thai, our top culinary priorities.  The five-hour class, which included a visit to select ingredients from a local market, was entirely too much fun, especially in the company of these four lively people from the Catalunya region of Spain.  And the food was totally yummers!
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A muay Thai boxing match was one of our must-do activities for Thailand, and we were pleased to see a ladies' fight on the list, which included children (a tad disturbing...) and "heavyweights" in the 150-pound range :)   Traditional music and a spiritual dance take place before each boxing match, in which fighters demonstrate their agility by delivering blows with both their hands and feet.
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Monday, August 5, 2013

"Templing" in Chiang Mai, Thailand

We have spent nearly two weeks in the pleasant northern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand.  That may seem like an inordinate amount of time to devote to a town of less than 200,000 inhabitants.  Yet it has flown by!  Between our multiple visits to the Chinese embassy to obtain our tourist visas for our upcoming stop in Beijing, replacing some of our backpacking clothes and camera supplies, and getting the last of our vaccinations in preparation for upcoming jungle outings, we mainly buzzed around on our rental motorbike, exploring countryside temples.  The Buddhist structures are totally new to us and astounding in their intricacy and diversity of design.  Here is a sampling in the Chiang Mai area:

We have seen lotus flowers all over the place in Thailand, incorporated into art, architecture, landscaping and decoration. I understand that in Buddhism, it symbolizes detachment from the material world, among other interpretations.

Following directions from the owner of our hotel, we found this stupendously impressive temple made entirely of silver.  Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Being of the female gender, I was not allowed inside the temple due to an ancient burial of some valuables underground.  I don't really understand the connection between these two facts, but at least Harold got some awesome pics of the interior.



Ganesh is the "remover of obstacles" in Hinduism, and apparently has gained widespread popularity in Buddhist Thailand for reasons difficult to ascertain. 

One of the temples in the silver temple complex in Chiang Mai.

I don't know why this figure is green, but it is intriguing-looking.

This man diligently engraves the silver sheet, using a slab of tar underneath to absorb the indentations.  Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

This is a small hilltop temple on the way to Doi Suthep temple complex, in the middle of the national park by the same name.  Near Chiang Mai.

At the mountaintop Doi Suthep temple complex.  

Teak woodwork at the complex.

This pagoda is believed to contain relics of the Buddha.  According to legend, a white elephant wandered to the temple's location, trumpeted three times, and died, leading to the selection of the site in the 14th century.

Some different positions of Buddha, the meaning of which I am not certain.

Temple complex in Lamphun, Thailand.

The wheel is omnipresent in the temples, with the hub, spokes and rim representing the teachings of Buddha in terms of meditation, mindfulness and the "eightfold path" governing behavior.

This Lamphun temple dates to the 7th century A.D.

The monks' chanting competed with the music from a Zumba class across the street.

Here we are after a long day of "templing", with me looking a bit maniacal as we snap a shot of a lit-up countryside temple before heading back to Chiang Mai.