Part one...Old City & Temples
Left Ban Chang after a quick visit with my friends on a B160 minibus to Mochit bus station (Bangkok) to catch a bus north to Chiang Mai. From minibus station it's a short walk over to the main bus terminal where buses leave predominantly to the north/northeast regions. After a watching people choose and checking out various prices with levels of comfort, I decided to treat myself to a overnight VIP (ATS) bus B867 to Chiang Mia. The advantage of VIP is less customers and full reclining seats - spoiled. Leaving Mochit around 8:00pm with a couple stops, we arrive in Chiang Mai @ 6:00am. I booked a place at the Libra House - family owned & operated. Too early for their driver to pick me up (free) I hop on a tuk tuk B80 instead. Arrive, settle into my very clean, cold water/fan room for a whopping B250 a night - cheapest yet. Breakfast and a quick call home (family you know - no matter what age) I slept most of the day away however got up to walk and get the layout of the area - Old City on Christmas Day.
I decide to stay in the old city. Many temples are within walking distance so stumbled across Wat Chiengman - my first temple in Thailand. I like the monks. So many questions I'd love to ask if given the opportunity. Temples are all free and have donation boxes located throughout the temple grounds to help with maintenance. Walking around is a treat, taking in the old architecture & designs and then sitting inside with Buddha at the forefront. I sit and watch worshipers give blessings to whom they believe.
The short version of Buddha:
Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from 'budhi', 'to awaken'. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35.
Siddhartha Gotama, who was never considered a god, was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.
To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means love of wisdom' and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:
(1) to lead a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.
Sounds like something I could personally acknowledge and do to a certain point do - leading a 'moral' life, hmmmmmm?? Honestly, unable to remember names of rest nevertheless, all individually unique with the same concept in mind. The largest temple had a garden with trees and on these trees were signs with Buddha sayings - felt good after reading each one. There was also a monk teaching a class Buddhism - better than any PlayStation. I met 3 Chinese girls on vacation from Shanghai who asked me to join them & I did. Funny & delightful they were, had a great time hanging out and after a stop for some fruit shakes (yum) we parted ways.
It's Christmas, met a German couple, we went out for some dinner, then after, karaoke - I chose Summer of 69 and was awesome of course. Not snow, turkey dinner & family though with +20's, cold beers & fellow travellers alike, we made do.