South East Asia :: March - June 1995

Subject: Buddha PARTIES!!!!
Date: May 8, 1995 18:12

21:17 Tanya House; Chiang Mai-Thailand :: 29 APR 95

Too bad we're leaving Chiang Mai early tomorrow (6:30 AM train to Bangkok). Seems one of the Wats in town is throwing a bash and all the others are invited to attend, and any hangers on and farang gate-crashers too. There are the requisite food stalls and trinket sellers but there are also carnival games and a rock-and-roll stage. Outside the walls the Sang Thip and Mae Khon flow lightly from hawker's stalls. The night is young and the stalls seem well stocked.

For Katrin and me, the centre-point proves to be a second, smaller stage where members of the community dress up and perform traditional Thai dance. Fascinating. There's live gamelan accompaniment if one of a dozen or so bands isn't already up on stage. The whole family's there and performing. The entertainers arrive, Wat by Wat, amidst much rhythmic noise, dancing and fanfare. And the performers seem unperturbed by the blast from the rock band across the lane, or the noisome main-gate arrival of the next Wat, even though their stage is setup adjacent to the gate.

A Wat arrives as an entourage consisting of some standard bearers followed by several monks (usually quite young). The gamelan band comes after and I'd guess mothers and grandmothers of the monks dance as they wind and twist through the band. Each arriving entourage also carries a money tree (in Thailand, money does grow on trees) which we presume is being presented as a donation to the host Wat. It is Katrin who notices the money trees are getting successively larger. We figure that the Wats arrive in order of size and/or importance. We'd earlier seen some monks at a medium-sized Wat putting the finishing touches on a huge money tree set in the bed of a brand new pickup truck. The truck itself had been brocaded with fresh cut flowers and flower-wreaths. I reaaally wish we could be there when Wat Chiang Man arrives. It may not be biggest but, constructed in 1267, it's the oldest in Chiang Mai coinciding with the founding of the city.

Ahh well. All we're missing is mirth, noise, monks and the usual carrying-on. But this one's likely to go on into the wee hours of the morning. There are as many Wats in Chiang Mai as there are Starbucks coffee outlets in Seattle and Vancouver combined.

Patrick. -- Responses Sought --

But never have I been a blue calm sea
I have always been a storm
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From Storms by Stevie Nicks
Performed by Fleetwood Mac