James said his typical day was to get up before dawn, walk the streets to collect alms before breakfast, participate in morning prayer or meditation, spend the bulk of his day in classes or studying and then take part in an evening prayer session. This reinforced to me the incredible influence that Buddhism has over the lives of the Thai people. It was in Chang Mai that we had one of our more memorable travel experiences during a morning chat with a Buddhist monk.


This gives visitors a chance to learn about Buddhism and the monastic life and allows novice monks to practice their English. But as we wandered the grounds of this temple one morning, a young monk strolled over to us.
Everywhere in the country are men who have spent from a few months to a few years as a Buddhist monk. In Chang Mai, due to the presence of the Buddhist university, these saffron- and orange-robed young men were especially plentiful.


I recalled a conversation with Pravat, a local guide who had spent 11 years in a Buddhist monastery, six years as a novice and an additional five years as a full-fledged monk, before leaving to get a paying job.



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