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Impressive temples & Buddhist blessings

THAILAND | Thursday, 16 March 2017 | Views [651]

Chiang Mai, Thailand.

........... Chiang Mai, Thailand.

As I told you in an earlier blog post, inside the wall in Chiang Mai is full of temples, lots and lots of temples. So we made a day out of exploring them. The Temples or Wat's, all require modest dress so shoulders must be covered, nothing with a low neck line, and clothing below the knee. With all this in mind, we headed out into one of the hottest days so far, wearing more clothes than we had since arriving!
We visited 4 temples, all with similar 'set ups' inside. 2 stood out in particular. They all contained stunning architecture and art work, with an eye watering amount of detail.
We entered Wat Chedi Luang and the first door way was guarded by a red sign stating women were not allowed to enter!!
Excuse me..??!
It was the entrance to Inthakhin Pillar Vihara, the City Pillar. The sign went on to explain that the City Pillar is now enshrined underground and that ground is a sacred place. Women are prohibited to enter because they menstruate, and it is believed that this humiliates and ruins the sanctity of the City Pillar. It goes on to say men who dress inappropriately will not be allowed in as any breaking of the rules will cause social instability. My hubby entered and took some pictures, very subtly. The Wats are incredible and photography is allowed but there is something about them that gives you a sense of gratitude, so we are very aware of ourselves and the possibility of causing offence.
We wandered the grounds of the Wat Chedi Luang and discovered an incredible looking ruin. A Thai visitor, sat taking in the view, asked us where we were from and proceeded to tell us the history of the ruin.

The towering brick structure, once complete, stood at 280ft tall and was shrine to the Emerald Buddha, regarded the holiest of religious objects in Thailand. When a severe earthquake hit in 1545, it toppled a huge amount of the great spire and reduced the Chedi to its current state. It still stands at approximately 190 ft and is an impressive sight. It has a monumental staircase in the centre of each of its four sides, leading to archways housing gold statues of Buddha. The staircases are 'protected' by mythical snakes and elephants that stand guard around the corners of the platform. The stone work and man hours for the structure are difficult to comprehend when you consider the impressiveness of the ruined structure and the age of it.

Once we had sat for a while taking in the incredible sights, we heading to another Wat. Wat Phra Singh. This is aptly named for the Buddha image housed here known as the 'Lion Buddha' (Phra Singh). The main platform for worship houses the huge Buddha statue, surrounded by dozens of others all different sizes. All gold in colour and often dressed in orange robes by worshippers. We sat for a while observing Thai visitors present offerings to Buddha. They brought all kinds of things, from flowers to food and drink, we even watch one man enter with what appeared to be a jewellery bag. As a culture based so heavily on karma and good will, they believe your offerings should be relative to your wealth. These offerings where blessed, along with the offerer, by a Monk sat cross legged on a platform at the side of the temple.
Visitors where also welcome to receive blessings and this is where myself and the hubby got our first Thai bands.
The Monks take threads of string and wrap them together in huge lengths. The strings are blessed as they are loosely wrapped around each other. In this temple they are secured with a string wrapped across the middle of them. When a person approaches for blessing the Monk wraps the string around the wrist and cuts it, ties it in two knots while chanting a blessing followed by a sprinkling of blessed water.
The whole day was very humbling. We both realised we had a great respect for the culture.


Saturday was on us again and we needed some things for our trip on Monday morning. We decided to avoid the walking street, after last weeks crowds we decided it would be almost impossible to actually stop and barter with stall owners without being trampled by passers by. We headed to the night bazaar instead, and it was lovely and calm. We wandered, bought the bits we needed and headed back towards our guest house to find a bar for a few hours. Considering the pace of the city, it's so very easy to find yourself relaxed.
Sunday was a quiet day, I lounged in the sun and we packed ready to move tomorrow. Just before sunset we headed out to an area called Zoe in Yellow. A small complex of bars in a hollow square. It's a tourist hotspot for partiers but when we arrived it was really chilled with music playing as the sun set. We had a few drinks and chatted for a while before heading for some food, finding a little authentic Indian place. The area seemed to have a lot of Indian places so we thought we would give it a try and it didn't disappoint. We headed home, showered and finished packing ready to move.
The city of Chiang Mai is busy but relaxed in comparison to Bangkok. But what a contrast in days from temples inside the square to party central!

Tags: blessings, buddha, chiang mai, culture, monks, temples, walking

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