28 Jul 2013

What's Wat in Chiang Mai?

Read our original post about Chiang Mai here but as promised, we wanted to share with you some of the delights...

There are over 300 wats (Buddhist temples) here and yet only 250,000 people, which is a crazy ratio of erm...quite a lot, but who are we to judge? We are guessing it gives them time to pray in peace and surround themselves with lots of shiny sparkling Buddhist paraphernalia? 

So far we have seen 6. Maddy read one travel blog where they'd managed 37 in four months. That's going some! We can't imagine having the time to do anything else! Having said that, they are beautiful and serene places (though watch out for the temple dogs).

We had no clue about Buddhism and it's been quite interesting to learn a little about it, so we thought we'd share what we've learnt with you, our dedicated readers! You may thank us later.

So the wat, aka the temple, is also a monastery. You can usually find orange robed monks pottering about carrying out their daily chores. This is everything from sewing their orange robes to changing the incense. The wats are hugely ornate large buildings with high ceilings and sloping roofs.

Dramatic entrance

You'll always see lots of Buddhas in varying sizes, mostly huge, both inside and outside the wats. Believe us, they simply can't get enough of them! 

As you can see, wats are not known for small and simple is best, but instead it's all about the grand, the gold leaf and the detail!

Maddy was in love with all the colour!

The gold leaf!
As with many religions, symbolism is a Big Thing. You'll see lots of dragons guarding the temples, symbolising enlightenment, positivity and creativity. The apparently Buddhist expression 'meeting your dragons in the cave' means facing your own fears. But we reckon its more to do with naughty children being sent to the temple to be told off by the monk, but we are both children of Catholic education, so we wouldn't really know about being bold. Down with that sort of thing!


And usually a few horses...this horse can travel across clouds, and circumnavigate the world three times in a day. You can place any and all wishes with the horse apparently! With Paddy's fondness for a flutter at the bookies, this sounds like the one to place your bets on! Or not, as is often the case with Mr Noble.

And what, we hear you cry, is the large gold pointy thing?

Gold 'chedi' next to sugar cube white cemetery
It's called a chedi or stupa. Sometimes gold, sometimes stone, but always large and grandiose, usually containing relics of important monks or royals and used for meditation by Buddhist monks.

Many of the wats are continually undergoing renovation
due to the large amounts of money donated to the wats (see also: karma)

Can you tell it's monsoon?!
Love this photo with the orange robes contrasting with the moody clouds covering the mountains in the background and the dramatic white cemetery

We've also spotted Lord Ganesha placed strategically around Buddhist temples and homes and have been wondering what a Hindu god is doing here in Buddhist territory? Is he lost? Well it turns out that the elephant-headed god is actually considered an incarnation of Buddha by Buddhists! So there you have it.

(As a side note did you know that the three wise men in the Bible were actually looking for a reincarnation of their Lord Buddha?)

Hope you enjoyed a little culture...!.

Lots of love,
Maddy and Paddy xxx

A Slice of Pai! Part 1

Upon telling people we were heading to Thailand, a number of our friends recommended we head to Pai right in the north, perhaps knowing that we would love it. It's only 135km from Chiang Mai so last week we rented a bike to take the journey up here. When we say we, please read Simon, and when we say bike, read scooter. Very small scooter. With no gears. Oh and there are 762 curves on the road to Pai from Chiang Mai. And it's monsoon. Believe me, its not for the faint hearted, or those with a strong aversion to numb bum! But it was a great excuse to wear our very sexy looking rain gear.

But we eventually arrived in Pai and wow. It is so lovely! We met up with some travel blogger friends of ours who recommended this beautiful bungalow resort down by the river Pai, called Sawasdee Pai. Like most of Pai, its very twee and quirky, and very imaginatively decorated. 

Luckily they had one for us, and one for these two lovelies:

That's right, Bridesmaid Kat and her husband Alex came to see us on their round the world honeymoon, between Australia and Vietnam they squeezed in a week seeing us! Yay. 

Wow! Did we fit a lot into a week or what? There was eating, and drinking, and cricket listening, and caving, and elephant riding and plenty more eating.

Full details of our adventures will be coming shortly! But in the meantime, we headed back to Chiang Mai when it was due for them to leave, but we loved Pai so much we have returned once more!

UPDATE: Here's the map of our location as promised!

More soon!

Lots of love
Maddy and Paddy xxx

19 Jul 2013

Chiang Mai: what are we doing here?

It's a funny thing, this life that we fill up with expectations. Like a box of chocolates you never know what you're going to get. You never know until you bite into it. You can have so many ideas of what a place will be like, read about it in the Lonely Planet until the words swim around the page, but in the end, whatever happens, that thing is what it is. Well, mostly.

Something we didn't expect: fizzy drinks in a bag with ice

12 Jul 2013

Catching Up: A Keralan Adventure Part 2 Art and Elephants!

This is part 2 of the blog post we previously sent out by email in January 2013. 

So we stayed for a couple more days in Fort Kochi, where we visited a contemporary art exhibition, India's first Biennale, a showcase of where India sees itself in the world of modern art, something that, to be honest, wasn't really on our radar when we left the UK. 
However, at 50 rupees to get out of the furnace that is an Indian afternoon in January, it is money well spent. 

10 Jul 2013

Babies and puppies and cats, oh my! Our month in England

So, as many of you know we recently had to fly back for an unexpected trip for a month in England. 

We met and cuddled babies...of various sizes, shapes and smells. We managed not to drop any, so high fives all round!