By Sandy Zimmerman
(Photos by Sandy Zimmerman)
Chiang Mai has so many exciting ways to interact with the Thai-style of life. During my stay at the Ratilanna Riverside Resort, I had the opportunity to experience the ritual of "Making an Offering to the Buddhist Monks".
This ceremony is called Merit making, the Thai people believe doing good would bring happiness and a peaceful life. The Monks routinely woke up at 4 am, pray for one hour and chant for one hour then walk barefoot to the villages or take boats to some of the hotels. In Buddhism, the giving of alms is the beginning of one's journey to Nirvana yet they shouldn't do it just for that reason.
The rules allowed the Monks to collect, receive, and consume food between dawn and noon but he can drink water any time. The Monks cannot cure, cook or store the food overnight.
Since one of the Monks was scheduled to arrive around 7:30 am, I joined the other guests walking to the Ratilanna Resort's private pier and entered their traditional Dragon Tail boat. All of the complimentary foods and flowers for the Monk's ceremony were furnished by the resort. The guide gave instructions in the proper procedure for our offerings.
Finally I saw a small boat approaching with the sight of the Monk's orange robes signaled that he was near.
The Monk's boat docked beside the Dragon Tail boat's open door. This is very personal as each guest held a skewer of food and a large open container while kneeling with their heads bent and hands in a prayer position. All of the offerings were handed to the Monk, placed in his bowl or on something in direct contact with his hands. Women could not touch the Monk and placed the food offering on a cloth. The Monk said a prayer each time food was presented to him.
The Ping River is one of the main waterways. Guests can ride the Dragon Tail boat from their private dock to the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam, to the Night Bazaar or many other sights around Chiang Mai.
There are special Martini Sunset Cruises enjoying the bartender's secret martini recipes and champagne cocktail sip or the romantic candlelit Dinner Cruise both providing great views of life along the Ping River.
Guests can also take the Scorpion Tail boat to or from the Chiang Mai International Airport and the private boat pier at the resort.
I appreciated the Ratilanna Resort for their true authentic "Thai-ness", a feeling of understanding the traditions and customs of the country. The Ratilanna Riverside Resort is located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. www.ratilannachiangmai.com
Sandy Zimmerman is a syndicated Show/ Film & Dining Reviewer, Travel Writer, Photographer, and Talk Show Host of the Las Vegas Today Show program and Discover the Ultimate Vacation travel specials.