We had a day and a half in Chiang Mai. (Two days for me since I would leave the tour and go back to Seoul after the rest of my tour group continued on their way to Bangkok). After checking into our hotel (Chiang Mai Gate Hotel, across from which we had our laundry done at a little shop for about 30 ฿) then went down street for lunch where I got a delicious cheese pizza at an Italian restaurant called Mario’s Italian restaurant. My group ended up liking the italian restaurant so much that they got food to go for their ride down to Bangkok.
After lunch we broke off into groups. Some of us wanted to check out the temples, some people were exhausted, others wanted to swim. I went with a small group to check out the temples nearby. Our first stop was the Silver Temple (Wat Sri Suphan, วัดศรีสุพรรณ) which requires you to stop by the information booth where you can chat with a volunteer (In our case a friendly chatty expat) or set up a time with a monk. They essentially make sure you know about the temple and answer any questions you may have. What we didn’t learn in the meeting but what would have been useful was that the silver temple only has one building fully made from silver with the interior also made of silver and it’s the only temple on the grounds women are not allowed in.
Which was quite a bummer, especially since apparently the inside is also filled with intricate silver panels. There was a lot of other things you can do while at the temple, you can learn about silver work, watch the silversmiths, chat with a monk or take a meditation class and there are a couple other temples on the grounds that are open to everyone.
The other temple we visited was Wat Chedi Luang ( วัดเจดีย์หลวง) which houses several temples, only one of which women can’t enter (where the city pillar is housed). While there we sat down with a young monk to learn more about his life and Buddhism. We talked for quite a while and I asked one question. While in Chang Mai and even at the Wat Chedi Luang I noticed that the robes of different monks were different colors, the one we spoke with had orange robes, while around us were ones wearing brown or maroon. He said that there wasn’t any real significance to the robes, that it just happened to be the color of cloth the temple had. So his robes went with those of a different temple nearby and the robes for the temple we were at were a different color. It was nice to sit and talk with him and I highly suggest it if you’ve got time and are curious about Buddhism or the life of a monk or just want to talk. In exchange we wrote in his book, answered questions he had (he wanted to hear about our travel adventures and where we had been) and explained some new English vocabulary.