We continued to explore Chiang Mai, Thailand, and came across more fascinating places…the world is so full of them, if we just step outside our doors and routines to see them.
The meditation tunnels at the Umong Buddhist Temple, are 700 years old, and are deep in the forests of Chiang Mai, near the Doi Suthep mountains.
Well worn bricks and concrete formed a patchwork arch over us, providing shade and a slightly cooler temperature from the humid forests outside. The tunnels were quiet and peaceful and the tile, cool under our bare feet. Several enclaves throughout, exhibited Buddha statues and other sacred treasures.
Further tunnels opened up to carpeted areas where individuals knelt in worship, incense, whispy smoke and candlelight filling the air.
Feeling the slightly cooler air and peaceful quiet in the tunnels, it was easy to see how monks could have (and continue to) use these corridors for meditation.
We exited into the forested gardens, where a simple cemetery held remains of monks and priests who had walked the hallways and grounds we had been sauntering through.
Many statues line the cemetery walls, some crumbling with age, and covered in moss and mold. It has been said that if you are quiet enough, you’ll be able to hear the trees talking to you, whispering truths and answers to your questions. Perhaps someday I will be able to still my mind long enough to hear them speaking to me too.
We strolled down paths and through courtyards on the temple grounds, passing monks in orange clothing, curious tourists and vendors selling Thai iced tea and lottery tickets. A pond with a pretty little bridge filled with pigeons lay spread out ahead, and I walked out to see the water.
As I stood watching the open mouthed fish below me in the water, a pigeon in the tree above pooped on my head and down onto my shoulder. Aidan witnessed it and laughed so hard while trying to help me wipe the nonsense out of my hair, but finally gave up because it was just too funny!
We all moved far from the bird filled trees and sat and enjoyed a drink together, before continuing on…
After leaving the temple grounds, we walked through streets filled with wooden carvings,
colorful bags, clothing and key chains,
and old men standing by their tuktuks, chatting as they waited for customers to take a seat.
Our evening was spent at a night market, enjoying the sights of curious crowds and animated craftsmen.
I watched a sweet old lady who sat among her goods, studying the crowd. I wished I was fluent in Thai so I could sit with her for a while and hear her story.
Night markets are also a place for delicious foods, like dumplings filled with red beans or different meats,
as well as not so delicious things like steamed squid…
Then there’s those strange things that only the crazy people eat…like BUGS!!! I couldn’t believe that the creatures would embrace the challenge like they did. Aidan even ended up with grasshopper legs stuck in his braces!
They enjoyed the black beetles, crickets and grasshoppers the most, saying they tasted like tea. Their least favorite were the silk worms because they were ‘too gushy.’ All I could do was watch with the look of awe mixed with disgust on my face, and change the subject every time they offered me one.
Chiang Mai is most definitely a place we will return to, and continue to enjoy the artsy cafe’s, quaint stores, beautiful temples and friendly people. We will also return to the water park we found, as well as the cliff jumping place.
One more adventure down, several thousand to go!