Travel: Chiang Mai — Monk City

(From The Secret Map)

By Simon Slater

Having paid a flying visit to Thailand’s second city previously, on my second visit to southeast Asia I planned to combine a dental procedure with an extended stay in Chiang Mai, where there are jaw-dropping temples and mouth-watering dishes around every corner, not to mention monks galore.

I happened to arrive at the beginning of a week-long annual celebration for the founding of the city known as the Inthakin Pillar Festival, centred around the ancient ruins of the pillar inside Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai’s central temple complex. This brought a constant daily stream of flower-bearing Buddhist devotees from in and around the city who burned incense, prayed, and feasted on the plethora of street food amongst a backdrop of traditional Lanna music and dance performances. Lanna being the ethnic culture of Northern Thailand.

The highlight this stay was being invited to watch an ordination ceremony of three novice monks into fully-fledged monkhood. The 20-year old that invited me was the subject of the sunglasses portrait in this post, his smile masking pre-ceremony jitters. The ceremony itself is captured further down and I’m happy to say that all three of them became successfully emerged monks soon after. Read more

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