Monday, January 27, 2014

Chiang Mai: Wat Wat Wat!

Whilst in Chiang Mai, we hit up many a wat (temple), as one is wont to do in that town. 
Wat wat wat! 
First, the wat on the hill: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (Doi Suthep for short).


Located on the top of a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai, Doi Suthep was founded in the 1300s, when, as legend says, a white elephant carrying a relic (a piece of one of the Buddha's shoulder bones)was released into the jungle, it climbed Doi Suthep mountain and died at the top.  As a result of this sign, the temple was built at the spot atop the mountain.  Here's a replica of the white elephant:


After driving most of the way up the mountain, you have to climb a cool set of 309 stairs for the last bit up to the temple... stairs guarded by two nagas:


At the top, the golden stupa is quite pretty, as are the many Buddha statues surrounding it:


There were lots of people making offerings and praying, circling the stupa clockwise and pouring oil over these lamps:


While at Doi Suthep, I got photos of these temple dogs lounging on the steps... it was cold (down into the 50s at night) while we were in Chiang Mai, and it seemed that all of the stray dogs, whether living at a temple or on the street, were suddenly clothed in sweaters and t-shirts to keep them warm!:


 Other temples we visited were in Chiang Mai's old city, inside its defensive wall and moat.  First, Wat Chedi Luang, which was built starting in the 1400s.  For part of a century, the Emerald Buddha was housed in Wat Chedi Luang (remember the Emerald Buddha? Now it's in Bangkok at the Grand Palace.):



Our favorite part of Wat Chedi Luang, though, was their Monk Chat program, advertised below.  As part of the program, you can chat with monks in pursuit of cultural exchange and better English skills.  Suggested topics of conversation, according to the sign, include:
  • Buddhism and Thai culture.
  • The life of Monks.
  • The traditions of your country.
  • Charity work.
  • Anything.  (this one was our favorite)

Another common sign in the wats of Chiang Mai... not sure what "sprinter property of you" is (besides a strange translation):


We also went to Wat Phra Singh, where this guy greeted us... inexplicably:


These pretty buildings also greeted us: 


Pretty door:


At this wat, people were praying in front of a stupa, but also using this pulley system to elevate what I assume is holy/blessed water in a metal tube up the side of the stupa and splash it down the stupa.  People were lined up to use this contraption... check out the video below:


 

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