“Get up at sunrise tomorrow if you want to see the monks” said our hotel manager as we checked in at the reception desk. My husband and I were visiting Chiang Mai for the first time, and we were full of curiosity about the many monks that inhabited this mountain city.
We set our alarms for 6:00AM then went to sleep. It was difficult to rise from the comfort of our bed when the loud beeping began in the early hours, but we dressed and dragged ourselves out the door anyway.
The main street in Chiang Mai was just around the corner from our hotel, so we walked to the road and waited. There were no monks in sight. We sat down in the gutter and watched the golden sunlight slowly light up the buildings. The street felt quiet and peaceful.
After about 15 minutes, the monks began to appear. They were dressed in orange robes and carrying empty bowls and canvas bags. The local Thai people also began appearing on the street, and some would walk straight up to the monks and hand over fresh vegetables, water bottles, and other food items. The monks would fill their bowls and bags with the gifts, then continue walking down the street to collect more from others. We later learnt that this process of giving to the monks was meant to bring about good luck.
Our tiredness forgotten, we watched these interactions with fascination. We noticed that many of the monks were just boys who must have started their training at a very young age.
We returned to our hotel feeling happy and calm. On a daily basis, it’s easy for us to get caught up in all the negative events that happen in our world, but here in Chiang Mai, the only thing we experienced was an immense feeling of peace and kindness.