I stopped by the Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai, Thailand for Monk Chat, a thrice-weekly session offered by Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya Buddhist University (more familiarly known as MCU). Here is where monks, typically students at the university, practice their English. And we travelers get a first-hand account of the daily life of monks and their work in Thailand. It’s a superb and rare opportunity that provides incredible insight into the world of Theravada Buddhism that predominates in this region.
Each week Monk Chat runs two-day meditation retreats. At the end of the month it offers a four-day retreat, which coincided nicely with my travels there in May. I was eager to get off the tourist beat for a few days to enjoy quiet and contemplation in a rural setting far from the hustle and bustle of busy Chiang Mai. So I signed up, paid the modest 1,000-baht fee (about $30 USD) and was promptly handed a white t-shirt and baggy trousers.