This morning I decided to rent a bicycle and get out of the city centre. My last day in Chiang Mai, I have a few hours to kill, and what better way to than bicycle strolling through the streets. A few days ago I met a Sam, a young Englishman, and we agreed on the beauty on wandering around in a new place, exploring.
Walking or going by bicycle gives the opportunity to quickly stop taking a photo, perhaps not always getting very far.
The traffic in Chiang Mai is quite busy and there are no bicycle lanes so I try to go the back streets. I check the map now and then, anything interesting to stop by, to see?
A temple to my left, Wat Khuang Sing. There are so many temples here in Chiang Mai, I’ve been to many now, do I really want to visit another one, can’t be that different. On the other hand, why not, I could stop and meditate, then leave.
I enter the temple area, small buildings surrounding a square. Dogs sleeping here and there, hens with chicken passing by looking for something to eat, monks resting in the shade. I’m not properly dressed for entering the temple so I find a place in the shade and sit.
Someone is saying something just behind me. I turn around and see a monk carrying flowers. We greet and he starts asking me all these questions in this curious and humble way.
He is now 53 years old. Being 13 when he came to this temple he has now spent 40 years here. I show him on the map where Sweden is, where in Chiang Mai I’m staying, about my children and I complement him on his English. He says it’s poor and I say it’s better than my knowledge in the Thai language. We both smile in agreement.
Do I like the food? Oh, yes, I love the Thai food! Do I like …. (I thought he said Phad Thai) ? Yes, I reply, very much. I have, he says, I will give you.
He leaves, entering the building behind us. After a while he comes back with a plastic containing three bananas, one apple and one clementine.
Being a Buddhist monk, you go collect your food every morning, being dependent on peoples mercy and willingness to give. As one novice said, another word for a Buddhist monk is beggar. They both do the same thing but ware different clothes.
Him having nothing gives me fruit.
I have so much to learn. So much I can do better. So much to learn.