When I think "monk," I think of a person who gave up the world to follow in the way of their religion. That means no life. No random outings. No technology. No marriage and family. Okay, okay, maybe that was back in the day.
Throughout my travels I've noticed a difference. I've even met a man who used to be a devoted monk for quite a bit of his life turned tour guide. I see monks on my adventures to visit the temples. They have the latest smartphones and can be spotted taking lots of pictures not of just what they see but of each other. I guess times have changed and these are the new age monks.
Monks are everywhere. In fact, in Chaing Mai, Thailand there are so many that "monk chat" is becoming a popular tourist activity. It provides an opportunity for people to ask monks questions about their lives and religion and offers monks the chance to practice their English. I thought that was a creative way to interact especially considering how many you see walking around so freely. People from near and far travel to line up to receive prayer and blessings from them why not offer the opportunity to converse and learn more about them.
Though temple'd out, I couldn't visit Chaing Mai without visiting at least one temple. Besides, Wat Prathat Doi Suthep temple is a popular temple on the mountain known not just for its beauty, but hosting monk chats.
Unfortunately for me monk chat was closed this day, but who knew I'd have a monk chat of my own.
People watching as I waited for the rest of my group, I caught a monk staring at me. He nodded, and I said hello. I noticed he was still looking so I stared back as I continued to converse with my travel buddies. (I hate when people stare so if I catch you staring at me I'm going to stare at you.) As I stared, I noticed he didn't look like the other monks. He didn't have the same color robe as the other monks nor did he look like the ones I've seen throughout Thailand.
As the staring match became a bit awkward, the monk spoke. He said "spider" and pointed to my earring. So I was starting to freak out. Asking if anyone sees a spider and brushing an imaginary spider off my body. Then he said "ghost." We were like what!? He said ghost spider and now pointed to my hair. He followed up pointing out my hair was different. He said the other girl's hair was straight and mines were like a ghost spider. Confused as to what a ghost spider was and not sure if it was an insult I asked him where was his hair. He came closer to me and said,
"Monk has no hair for religion."
"No hair... No wife... No love."
We began to giggle because the wife and love part was quite random so I asked him if he wanted a wife or love and he said no because women are trouble.
As we laughed, two other monks came over to greet us and chat. One spoke perfect English. He asked us where we were from and seemed to know precisely where we spoke of. The other monk tried to sneak pictures of us, and I was like if you want a picture I want one too. That's my other travel bit if you 're going to take a picture of me then I will take a picture of you. It's only fair.
So we pose for several cameras because each monk wanted a picture. They asked how old we were and made a bit of small talk. Other people watched and desired part of the action, so they took photos with the monks too.
As they prepared to leave, they said their goodbyes. But the one I met first who called my hair a ghost spider stayed afterward to share Facebook. He wanted to be my Facebook friend. I thought that was a bit strange but cool and wouldn't hurt so we traded. Who knew monks had Facebook!?? I thought it was against the rules but then again how cool would it be to have a monk as a Facebook friend? We exchanged pleasantries, and he left saying he liked my hair. I guess ghost spider isn't a bad thing though I couldn't find it on the internet.
Well, all was normal with the world until he started messaging me. He even went through my page and liked all my religious post. He sent me a picture of myself from my page stating he liked that photo. He even sent me pictures of the elephant tour he was attending. Next thing I know, the monk added me to another Facebook page. I'm now growing confused. Why does a monk have 2 Facebook pages?
A few hours later I received notification that he changed the background of our chat to pink and the thumbs up to a heart. I didn't even know you could do that! Weirded out I stop responding. This just doesn't seem like monk behavior. An hour later he called me, but I didn't answer. He replied it was a mistake and said "Sorry baby" Baby!? Yo, this monk wyldin out! I text baby was inappropriate especially for a monk. He replied baby is the same as a child and that he's sorry and will call me small sister.
Now I'm all types of confused. I asked the owner of the hostel, and she said it seemed like strange behavior from a monk. She also said he definitely couldn't be a monk from Thailand because they wear orange robes and don't talk like that. So I researched his robe and checked out his Facebook pages. Come to find out he's a Burma monk. I guess they do things different over there.
The next day I ran into a guy who was a monk three times. THREE TIMES!! He said it was to pay respect to his father and grandfather when they passed. As a monk it's more acceptable for them to use technology, but some may abuse it. For example, this monk I met. The guy mentioned as a monk you're to do away with all temptation and usually social media is included. He laughed after I shared all the details of my encounter ending with the idea that the monk was trying to make me his girlfriend or something. Oh, and he's never heard of a ghost spider.
I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and say with the language barrier and cultural differences the monk is harmless. Then again, I've had quite the encounters with men during my travels that I don't put anything passed then. If anything, I learned one thing this stop... Men are all the same no matter the country code or religion. Shrug.
No more monk chat, XOXO