For spring break, I traveled around Thailand for one week with TEAN. The week was filled with countless incredible excursions, but one in particular was a very special experience for me. On the third day of our trip, we went to an incredible Buddhist temple located in the outskirts of Chiang Mai – Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. Since this was my first time in Asia, I had never seen any kind of temple before. The first thing I saw was an enormous Buddha perched at the top of a set of stairs. I then walked through a market to get to the staircase that led to the temple. This staircase was the most colorful and detailed staircase I had ever seen. There were fierce dragons’ heads at the start and their bodies continued up the staircase to the top. As I climbed hundreds of steps to the temple, I thought, “If I am this impressed with the stairs, I can’t imagine what the temple is like”. When I finally made it to the top, I was amazed by what I saw.
The outside of the temple was beautiful. The roof and walls were covered in green, red, and gold intricate designs. There were colored Buddhas, elephants and dragons all around the building as well. As I walked around, I noticed that inside there was an area that looked like a courtyard. I expected there to be a wide open space inside but I was dead wrong! I took my shoes off, walked up the steps and saw a chedi completely covered in gold! There were tons of Buddhas all around the temple and I noticed people walking around it more than once. I learned from one of the TEAN guides that it is good luck to walk around the temple three times. My friend and I decided to give it a try; we walked around three times and then made a wish.
Afterwards, I saw two of the TEAN guides walk outside of a room in front of the temple. My friend asked what was inside and they told us that a Buddhist monk could bless us! I really wanted to see the monk because when else would I be able to do something as unique as this? We were given instructions to walk inside with our knees bent because it is disrespectful to stand taller than the monk, who happened to be sitting in a large chair. We knelt before him and he began saying his blessing in Thai and splashed us with holy water. He then gave us string bracelets that were soaked in holy water. Even though I had no idea what he was saying, I felt humbled to be in his presence.
I spent the rest of my time at the temple trying to soak in everything I was seeing. The views were unlike anything I had seen before, and I hope I get the chance to see them again. Chiang Mai was my favorite place we went to in Thailand and I absolutely recommend people go there if the opportunity arises!