Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peace, Happiness, & Prosperity

This is the outcome that the annual Inthakin Festival hopes to invoke. The festival, which lasts 7 days, is held at Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai. Wat Chedi Luang is one of the oldest Wat's in the area. The festivals happens every year at the beginning of the rainy reason. On the 1st day a Buddha image is paraded around the city while the locals sprinke lustral water on it. Those who take part believe they wil be blessed with good health and a wealth of rain which is important for their number one export and crop- rice. On the final day they hold a big festival at the Wat and Jay and I were lucky enough to attend. It was filled with dancing, singing, blessings, and offerings.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thai Buddhist Culture

Every Buddhist country has different beliefs and has been influenced by other cultures. For instance, the Vietnamese is strongly influenced by Chinese, Loa is influenced by India and so is Thailand, but in different ways.
Thai’s worship the Buddha but they also worship Hindu gods. So, if they want to pray for peace they will pray to the Buddha. But if they want to pray for wealth and prosperity they pray to the Hindu gods.
As we immerse ourselves in the Thai culture, we have learned some things along the way.
Offerings: Thais bring incense, money, food, and white flowers to the temple as an offering to Buddha.

In Threes:
Prayer is done 3x and most walk around the temple or Wat 3x.

Rude Behavior:
When you kneel before a Buddha statue in a temple, you should never sit with your feet in front of you pointing at the Buddha. You must sit on your feet or sit with them on your side. They are considered to be the dirtiest or lowest part of your body. At the Grand Palace in Bangkok they actually have police patrolling the area to make sure you are respectful of these traditions.

Days of the Week
: Every day of the week is represented by a different Buddha statue. They are broken up into the different stages of Buddha’s life. Whatever day you were born on is what statue you follow. For instance, I was born on Saturday so my Buddha is ‘Protected by Naga King’. Three weeks after his enlightenment, while Buddha sat under a tree, it began to rain. The Naga King- a gigantic dragon-like snake- rose from the earth and formed an umbrella with his 7 heads in order to protect the Buddha.

Buddhist Calendar:
Currently we are in 2552 (I think), Thai’s believe this Buddha will last 5,000 years total and when the year 5,000 is over there will be a new Buddha.

Chiang Mai- The Real Deal

We flew from Phuket to Bangkok and then hopped on another flight to Chiang Mai. We are staying at the Le Meridien Chiang Mai located in the center of town and in the middle of the night market.

What a lovely, welcomed change. Although the beaches will surely be missed, Chiang Mai is truly Thai. As soon as we got into town we could feel the difference- Wat's on every corner, people selling their wares on the street, and the sound of monks chanting in the distance.

We arrived on a Sunday so we could attend the festive Sunday Night Market. This special market is more like an elaborate street fair filled with food vendors, musicians (most of whom were blind), and vendors selling shoes, tshirts, and handmade items. It was so nice to be able to immerse ourselves into this weekly Thai tradition. After walking several blocks we took a much needed snack break near one of the local Wats. We spotted a noodle soup boot and ordered a bowl. Similar to Vietnamese Pho, the soup was out of this world delicious. After filling up on soup and dessert we stopped by a Wat and sat outside while listening to the monks and local people chant and pray. It's such a calming experience to listen to the repitition of prayer and the sort of humming sound that goes along with it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Bday Month

To those born in June! Especially to Meri, Jen, Carina, and Missy!

Happy Birthday Hannah

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday dear Hannnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaah.


We love you! Have a wonderful 7th birthday!!

Love Aunt Melanie & Uncle Jason

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wat Sop

Haven't been able to post lately, but wanted to link pix of Jason and I teaching our English class to novice monks- click here to see pix!

Will write more about their great program soon...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So Long To The Beach

We say goodbye to Phuket and southern Thailand as we move north to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Phuket has wonderful beaches, especially Nai Harn. Most of the beaches we've experienced are quiet with hardly any movement. However this beach is a bit rough with big waves and a strong tide, making it a favorite spot for surfers.

I will definitely miss listening to the waves break and feeling the sand between my toes. The next time we will see a proper beach will be the end of June in Phu Quoc, Vietnam!

Now on to Chiang Mai!
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