Our class of eleven students is now down to five, literally dwindling by the hour as more of us head to the bus station and far-flung teaching billets. We’ve all graduated, even the two of us who have not taken the final exam, so this week is basically ‘filler’. Continue reading
Chiang Mai University is a first rate school. They have a large number of programs ranging from Enginering to Social Sciences to Medicine and History. There are more than 36,000 students there this semester. It dominates the northwest section of the city and injects youth and vitality to an old town.
Inside CMU there is a college called Mahachulalongkornrajavidayalaya or MCU Buddhist University (10 points if you can pronounce the first name). And there, they have a little known program called Monk Chat. I found out about it through a roommate I had one of my first nights in Chiang Mai. He’s a high school teacher from Brooklyn, New York studying Buddhism on a federal grant so that he can take back his knowledge to the school system and develop a religious studies curriculum. Nice gig.
Monk Chat is held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on campus. It’s a bit difficult to find, but worth the effort. Simply stated, it’s an opportunity to sit down with a monk and talk about anything you want.
Do I want to sit down and talk to a monk?? Hell yes, I do, giddyup.
Simply said, it is stunning. Like it or not, you will be stunned to visit this temple on the outskirts of Chiang Rai in the far north of Thailand. Continue reading
I want to walk the city and see as much as I can by chance and from the perspective of the pavement and under my own power. But first, I have to go to the train station and see about a ticket to Chiang Mai for tonight or tomorrow. Continue reading
Subtitle: “How I Got A Monk’s Phone Number”
Day 2 – Bangkok, Thailand
So, I was on my way to the Christian Science Reading Room for a quiet, contemplative day—-ok, that’s a big fat lie. But, when I left my hotel, I had no plan other than to head to the river and let fate blow me where she would.
Little did I know, the winds of fate would lead to: coffee at a monk’s house, a stressful (?) meditation session, a transvestite dance revue, and a thorough police shake-down. Gee, thanks for entering my orbit, Deborah.
The Winds of Fate, as it turned out, was a random stranger standing next to me on the SkyTrain. Deborah, an over-educated smarty-pants, total-barrel-of-monkeys-fun Social Scientist from NYC. We were both headed to the water, so after a quick chat on the train, we pseudo-joined forces…at least in terms of trying to find the river and a water taxi. Harmless enough, right….?