Totally Zen Puppies
Oh, dear. Apparently, it is already that time in my house –- a biennial event that has come sooner than ever due to the lack of decent TV. (Resolution #2, check! Had to look up which word means “every two years,” and apparently it’s “biennial.” Isn’t that useful to know?)
Yes, elections are coming, which means lots of talking heads blathering nonsense that contradicts the nonsense they blathered yesterday are now blither-blathering ALL OVER MY TV. And how am I supposed to stop my darling husband from watching this? “No, Adam, I want to watch Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann again”?
I could perhaps argue that a new Friday Night Lights or Lost episode is more important or at least more fun to watch than the fate of the free world (or rather, the endless pontificating about the fate of the free world), but in our current sad TV-less state, I’m kind of out of ammunition.
On the other hand, and despite the talking heads, I’m all fired up and ready to go about this election, because whatever happens, isn’t it incredibly exciting? Can you even believe how close we are to having either an African-American or a female president? Doesn’t it make you so thrilled to be alive right now? Isn’t it incredible that the era of Mad Men was less than fifty years ago? Doesn’t it make you feel like maybe this here new century isn’t so doomed after all?
Yeah, OK, I’m a bit of an optimist anytime, but right now I’m full of hope, and I’m hoping we can hang on to that all the way into November.
It helps that we went to a massively inspiring Obama rally in New Hampshire on Sunday. I know! We were in the same room as him! Like ten feet away! I KNOW! It was kind of like that time we saw Jake Gyllenhaal at the theatre, or that time I’m pretty sure I walked right past Julia Roberts in Union Square. Only BETTER, because there was an awesome speech and an awesome soundtrack and an awesome "the world, it shall be saved!" feeling in the air.
I didn’t try to go shake his hand because I figured he needs an extra second of rest more than he needs to shake my hand. And just being in that room with him and all those other excited people was inexpressible enough. Like, floating-on-air amazing. EVEN MORE exciting than hearing Joss Whedon speak, and if you know me, you’ll know that’s saying a LOT.
So I’m trying not to listen to the big heads on TV, because I think they rarely add anything constructive, and at least half the time they’re completely wrong. With the exception of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, of course, who are delightful even without their writers but would be even more delightful WITH their writers, AMPTP, so sort yourselves out (how are my weekly bloggerly admonitions not working? I don’t understand!). 🙂
Anyway, I promised more Thailand photos, since I’ve taken a long break from them and I’m starting to forget all the temple names (and I’m sure you’re all going to be so disappointed if I get them wrong!). SO –- on to the second city in our travels! As I mentioned in the cooking episode, we flew from Phuket to Chiang Mai, which is the second-biggest city in Thailand, up in the north in the mountains. We spent one day at the cooking class, but we spent the other day touring the approximately five gajibillion temples in Chiang Mai, which was thrilling because if you multiply that by the nine zillion photos I must take at each temple, you have an idea of how long this blog entry is going to be. (Just kidding! I swear! These are just the hilarious and/or dazzling highlights! And there’s a puppy at the end! Stay strong!)
We started with Wat Suan Dok, on the outskirts of the city, which is on the way to Wat Doi Suthep. (Figured it out? Yup, “wat” means “temple”!)
This is a Buddhist temple, and there are monks in orange robes living in the quarters next to it and taking care of it, which is one reason it’s so shiny-looking.
Among the fascinating things we learned from our tour guide is the fact that every guy in the country spends at least some time as a Buddhist monk during his life – including the king! No wonder they’re the Land of Smiles.
Also, every Buddhist temple is apparently full of stray dogs.
We saw them everywhere we went, usually sleeping in the sun, all skinny and harmless and hungry and hopeful.
They find their way to the temples because the monks will take care of them, and you can actually donate to funds specifically for the dogs, which is kind of sweet.
Our guide also told us that the monks only eat two meals a day, and both of those are BEFORE NOON! Dude. Seriously. That would count me right out. My first meal of the day is usually at, like, 2pm, about an hour after getting up.
I suspect this is just one of many reasons I wouldn’t make a good Buddhist monk, even though I do like dogs and smiling and the color orange.
Inside the temple there’s a table where people leave offerings for the monks, which are mostly food but can really be anything, which probably explains this:
Yup. That’s a soccer clock.
Off in the background, you can see our next destination, Chiang Mai’s most famous temple.
So next we got in a car and drove up this mountain, and THEN…
Adam made me climb THESE STAIRS.
I KNOW. On our HONEYMOON. Can you BELIEVE it?
Oh, and there is totally a cable-car. Oh, yes. We just “decided” “together” to climb the stairs instead.
Anyway, we finally made it to the top, where there’s a really gorgeous temple complex.
As you can see, we’re shoeless here, which means we’re inside the temple part (also why we are hatless; don’t yell at me, yell at the sacred Buddhist laws!).
The story behind this temple is that a Buddhist relic was placed on the back of a sacred white elephant, which was then set free to roam.
They followed it all the way up the mountain, until it finally chose a spot, trumpeted three times, turned in a circle three times, lay down, and died (poor elephant! Adam’s lucky I limited myself to just the trumpeting). 🙂
Then they built the temple there and enshrined the relic inside the chedi, which is this pretty shiny thing:
And they’ve been restoring it and keeping it shiny ever since, which is why it doesn’t look like it’s 600 years old, even though it apparently is.
I’ll post the last temple (my favorite) on Friday or Saturday, but one last Chiang Mai adventure for today:
Our guide escorted us to the flower market…
…stuffed us into a couple of totally way safe-looking rickshaws…
…and sent us on our merry way.
Also spotted at the market:
Which I guess means they’re better off than these guys:
But don’t worry, the turtles aren’t for eating. Here’s what happens: in many places in Thailand you can “make merit” by releasing trapped animals back into the wild, such as caged birds or these turtles here, previously abducted from the nearby Ping River. Purchasing/rescuing/releasing these animals is good for your karma, which I guess makes sense to me, but here’s what I want to know…what about the karma of the people who caught them in the first place? Surely that would equal BAD karma for them, wouldn’t it?
Well, as long as the turtles make it home safely, I guess.
And! Because I promised! From the Wat Suan Dok complex, amongst the other stray dogs by the sacred trees:
Wishing you all Zen puppies and happy thoughts…
Quote of the Day: "There are only two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle." — Albert Einstein