In Thailand, if you only have one thing on your To Do List, chances are it’ll take you a week to get around to it. The one thing on my list was to go adventuring and check out some of the temples around my guesthouse. And yesterday, I finally managed to accomplish that.
I haven’t sought out the beauty in Chiang Mai and I haven’t documented it. Wandering, looking, snapping: that’s my preferred means of distilling the essence of a city. I use my camera to capture the parts that contribute to the whole picture. But I had not even bothered to charge the battery for my digital SLR since I’d left Sydney. That’s so unlike me.
Chiang Mai is famous for being a city of temples, known locally as Wats. There are over 300 of them in the city, and as we discovered on our way to the driving range yesterday, there are wats opposite wats, beside wats. I have been in Chiang Mai for about three weeks, and today was the first time I’d stepped foot inside a wat.
For a brief moment, I flirted with the idea of spending my days visiting every single wat in Chiang Mai. It’d make for an interesting experience, but Wat Fatigue set in quickly after my half-dozen. Much like my experience with cathedrals in Europe, they all start to look the same after a while.
I waited until the golden hour to go adventuring – just me and my camera – and my favourite time of day didn’t disappoint. The whitewashed walls of the wats are shaded enough to cover any signs of fatigue, the mirror mosaics that adorn the pagodas shimmer in the setting sun, the gold-leafed chedis seem lit from the love, compassion and knowledge within. Some of the junior monks were out sweeping up the leaves around the compounds, dressed in their ceremonial saffron-coloured robes. Dogs lazed about on the grass, the paths and on the cool, tiled stairs. Even they seemed to be at peace.
I’m enamoured with the quiet beauty of wats. There’s something calming about being inside these places, and as ye of little faith, I find that very, very interesting.