I met Touy (left) and Teza (right) while they were coming out of their evening chants at Wat Phong Sunan (Wat is Thai for temple or monastery) in Phrae, Northern Thailand.
Touy is a novice from Northern Laos, and Teza, a monk, is a Shan (at 9%, the largest minority) from Myanmar. They both came to Phrae to pursue college studies while they continue their religious life at the temple.
They spoke fairly good English, which I’ve found to be increasingly uncommon since I left Chiang Man for this part of Thailand, much less frequented by foreign tourists.
We talked for a good fifteen minutes, as they said they hadn’t had the opportunity to practice their English in a long time. They wanted to know about me, where I came from and what I did, and I asked the same. They struck me as two very calm and collected, intelligent guys.
“Life is simple in the monastery”, they said, “but it would be nice to be able to travel more, like you, to open our minds”. Despite my reservations about religions in general, I couldn’t help but think that they were probably more open-minded than me in a few important ways, and I told them so. They smiled.
The temple dogs came over and were in a playful mood, so I had to include them in the photo as well! As for the half empty smoothie cups, well, sometimes it just doesn’t feel right to arrange the scene too much.
This has been my most enjoyable encounter in this trip so far. Touy told me that, yes, monks have email too, so I promised to send him a copy of the photo.