Monday, January 09, 2006
"elephants,dogs, and monks, oh my......"
So I have made it to Chiang Mai, the "second city" of Thailand, 520 km north of Bangkok. Once again, I was quickly amazed how far one's money goes here as I paid $40 for an hours flight on a beautiful 747 jet to get to this city. The plane was half empty and they still managed to serve us drinks with peanuts in a beautful pink and purple wrapper; How they survive here with such low prices is still a great mystery to me.
It has been great meeting people here who are doing similar trips/journeys as I am. I am realizing more and more that I am not such a "rarity" after all in the sense that so many people are travelling on their own for months at a time..it is wonderful to learn so much from other people's stories- I have learned so much in just a day from being here....this is an amazing place for adventure of all kinds.
I befreinded a wonderful mother/daughter team (see pic)from Ireland within hours of being here- it was as if we had been friends for years- really lovely people with such a bright outlook on life. I sense already we will be lifelong friends- this is one of the greatest joys of travelling for me- meeting people "serendipitously" and then becoming friends for years to come.....it just reminds me more and more how every person we meet in our lives is really there for some special reason;in this case, Fiona and Rohan have helped me to feel so quickly at home in this 'faraway' city.
Yesterday we went to one of the (if not THE) most sacred Buddhist temple in all of Thailand- Doi Suthep. The legend has it that Buddha sent a white elephant up the mountains of Chiang Mai with sacred relics on its back in hope of finding a place to build a sacred temple. The story goes that this elephant walked up the mountainsides some 20 km before it literally collapsed and died in this spot. It goes without saying that there are not only lots of amazing gold buddhas in this temple, but heaps of dedications to elephants as well.
As luck would have it, we 'stumbled' upon an amazing ceremony while we were there. (see pic). A local temple was making an offering to this sacred site and part of the ceremony entailed about 200 or so 'parishioners" lining up (men in front, women behind them) around the main temple with a very long buddhist orange cloth- it reminded me a bit of what the Greek artist Christof would have done with a long piece of cloth in his psare time !. These 200 or so Thai people walked around the temple several times chanting a beautiful song while a sacred monk stood infron with flowers and incense, chanting softly to himself- it seemed like just another day on the job for him.... Eventually the cloth was wrapped around the bottom part of the chedi (the bdudhinst "steeple") with this huge orange clot- it was a beautifil site to see......pictures wont really capture this feeling but hopefuly you can get a sense of how special the moment was.
I am now contemplating several options during my week's stay here- will most likely do a meditation retreat for a few days as well as visit another friend who has a health retreat just north of this city. Again, having someone I know here just helps to make the world seem so much smaller and so much more safe and freindly..it is a great feeling. I also want to take a Batik class as this is something I have always wanted to learn.....I feel incredibly blessed to have this time right now to fill my spirit.
I hope you are all well- it is hard to believe that is just a week since a left but do know I think of Hawaii and friends/family daily.....bye for now and thank you for letting me indulge in sharing my journeys with you.
It really helps me feel more grounded and connected to you all while I trapse around this amazing country.