In the hills outside Chiang Mai

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
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Trip End May 31, 2008


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Where I stayed
Aoi's Homestay, Baan Mae on Chiang Mai

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

That evening we stayed at Aoi's Homestay, situated in the picturesque village of Baan Mae which lies in the hills one hour outside Chiang Mai. During our meal we enjoyed a performance by the local music group who played traditional Thai music and later had the opportunity to try some of the instruments and even get a little tuition on how to play them. We also enjoyed some local children performing traditional Thai dancing.

The Buddhist Monks in Thailand faithfully depend on the generosity of the local people to provide them with their daily meals. They only eat twice per day; breakfast and lunch. The monks then meditate in the afternoon and evening. Aoi, the owner of the guest house where we stayed, is one such Buddhist who daily brings a healthy breakfast of rice, vegetables and fruit for the monks.

On this morning some of our group came with her to give the monks their breakfast. We were met by three young trainee monks who accepted our offering and then gave us a blessing. Young boys come to the temples to learn the way of the Buddhist Monk over varying periods up until they reach 16 years of age then decide for themselves if they wish to become a monk. Boys bring great honour to their families by entering into temple life.

The highlight of this day was a four hour cycle through the village and surrounding countryside. During the cycle we visited another Buddhist Temple which featured some interesting murals on its inside walls. I was previously of the understanding that Buddhist and Hindu faiths held strongly to the concept of reincarnation. While this may be true the paintings on the inside wall of this temple, and others like it, clearly depict the three tiered afterlife also present in Greek Mythology and Christianity. In this case those who have achieved the state of enlightenment are depicted floating above, those in this present life are depicted through the many scenes of regular Thai life and those who have lived an unworthy life are depicted as being tormented in the underworld. These paintings demonstrate further similarities which are consistent across the world's various religions.

We also visited a mushroom farm to learn how this edible fungus is grown and harvested. Last stop was a local handy craft manufacturer where we were able to buy bags and other souvenirs at prices which were so cheap that bargaining was unnecessary. A number of us also dropped in to the local primary school to help teach an English lesson on animals. We each drew a picture of an animal on the blackboard and spoke to the kids about it. The animal I chose to draw was a kangaroo and I also managed to have the class bouncing around the room like little kangaroos. Spending time with these kids was a really rewarding experience. After lunch we travelled by songthaew into Chiang Mai.
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