The sea of orange that hits you when the monks are in town is quite an awesome sight and it is nothing like a group of Dutch football fans on match day heading through the streets of Amsterdam!
The monks go quietly about their daily chores, shopping with the rest of us, observing their rules, often strolling along in pairs. You will see them but rarely hear them.
My friend Phew, who I had met a few weeks earlier at a river market, eventually hooked up with me at his temple in Tha Khom, Wiang Kean District about 60km from Chiang Rai.
He learns his English from youtube and some at his college in Chiang Rai, but not great teachers there. Nevertheless, he is up and out for a 7 hour daily commute to and from college, four days a week, with only one more year left to fulfil his life as a monk and then returning as a lay man in society.
Interesting that at 22 years old this Laos monk studies in Thailand, pays a 25 baht a day tax, that’s less than a $1 to observe much tougher rules in his deity. Apparently, it is easier in Laos to be a monk from a rules perspective, just a more difficult life within such a poor country.
How fortunate I am to make a friend from a vastly different background, who just wants to make his mark on humanity, by adding some value to other people’s life.