Joining an Esoteric Buddhist Initiation on Holy Mount Koya

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One of the most unique experiences you can have in Japan is to journey to Mount Koya to take part in an esoteric Buddhist ceremony granting entrance into a sacred mandala—a visual representation of enlightened mind. The event is open to the public and held twice a year at the picturesque Garan temple complex—the home of the Shingon school—which was founded in 826 by the great saint Kobo Daishi. Kobo … Continue reading…

A Pictorial Trip Through Penang’s Chinatown

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For foreigners staying in Thailand long-term, the island of Penang in Malaysia is one of the best places to make a visa run. The Thai consulate is small, casual, and efficient. There is a great variety of food available, especially Indian food. And the old Chinatown in the heart of Georgetown is one of the most interesting and authentic you’ll find anywhere. There’s no need to follow a particular walking … Continue reading…

Wat Jed Yod – A Little Bodh Gaya in Chiang Mai

stucco temple art at Wat Jed Yod temple

Despite being one of the most important historical temples in Chiang Mai and having some of the most beautiful original stucco artwork in Thailand, Wat Jed Yod is largely quiet and free of tourists. It’s not only quite peaceful, but Wat Jed Yod is also designed like a miniature version of Bodh Gaya, making it an interesting temple to poke around and have a look at. The name Jed Yod … Continue reading…

Modern Buddhist Paintings at Wat Phrathat Doi Saket

buddha's victory over mara painting at wat phrathat doi saket

For ages, Buddhist temples have used artwork to tell stories. Temple murals often illustrate important events in the life of the Buddha, stories of his previous births, or key events in the history of the temple and famous monks who have lived there. Wat Phrathat Doi Saket is an ancient temple that carries on this tradition with a modern twist. The main assembly hall features recent paintings that express Buddhist … Continue reading…

Mae Nak Shrine – Home to Thailand’s Most Famous Ghost

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One thing you need to know about Thai culture is that Thais take ghosts very seriously. And in this nation of haunted places and ghost stories, none is more famous than the legend of Mae Nak Phra Khanong. It’s a bone-chilling tale of love lost and undying devotion (or would that be undead devotion?) that every Thai knows well. The story has been recreated on stage, for TV, and in … Continue reading…

The Biggest Buddha in Chiang Mai

the largest buddha statue in chiang mai

Most visitors to Chiang Mai have been to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep on top of the mountain overlooking the town. But there is another holy temple on a mountain top close to the city that few know about. The temple, Wat Prathat Doi Kham, is also home to the largest seated Buddha image in Chiang Mai. Wat Phrathat Doi Kham is actually older than the city of Chiang Mai. It … Continue reading…

10-Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat in Thailand

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For many people, a 10-day long silent Vipassana meditation retreat is a life-changing and eye-opening experience. I had done a lot of different types of meditation before I joined a 10-day Vipassana course in Thailand, so it wasn’t all totally new to me. But it was still quite challenging, and the methods of sitting and walking meditation taught were something I wanted to learn and try out. I chose to … Continue reading…