LEARNING – what the wat?

What is a Wat you ask? Wat a good question!

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A wat is a monastery temple in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia. They’re everywhere – from big cities to small villages, the Wat’s are endless. They all share some similar characteristics – generally a wat is a Buddhist sacred precinct with monk’s quarters, a temple usually with a large image of Budhha inside, and a structure for lessons. A Buddhist site without a minimum of three resident monks cannot ‘correctly’ be described as a wat, although the term is used pretty loosely, even for ruins of ancient temples.

In my travels through northern Thailand and Laos I have seen my fair share of Wat’s and now it’s your turn! You know what I’ve learned from seeing all these Wat’s?  Once you’ve seen one wat you’ve kinda seen them all. Sure they’re all a bit different. Some are new, some are old. Some are big, some are small. Some are fancy, some are plain. Some have cool stuff inside, some have cool stuff outside. But they’re all pretty much the same. Trust me.

In the cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, I spent my days wandering the streets and strolling from Wat to Wat. I’d like to say I could remember which was which, but I can’t so there. As a whole, Chiang Mai was more interesting than Chaing Rai. It is an ancient walled city with an intact moat surrounding the old part of the city. It is also the home of about a hundred different Wat’s – no wonder I can’t keep them straight. Chiang Rai did have some highlights though, especially the 12km bike ride out to see the weird and wacky White Temple and of course the lady boy christmas show at the night market – interesting stuff.

My last stop in Thailand was the little town of Chiang Kong, just across the border (a.k.a the Mekong River) from Laos. It had a lovely little walk along the river and a few Wat’s of its own. Northern Thailand and Laos were quite chilly, I mean I had to put on a sweater and everything. Good thing I packed for Nepal, because I sure needed those extra layers. Now that I’m back in the south I am plenty warm again and thankful for the memories of those slightly chilly nights.

A lot has happened since I first began this post, but do to limited/slow internet I could never upload any photos. So I’m catching up on catching you all up. Bear with me – there is more to come.

Thanks for reading!

-Rene

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