In the backroads of Chiang Mai lies the stimulating Chinese Buddhist Temple, Kuan Yin Bodhisattva Hall Chok Chai 4 (located: Tamnak Phra Mae Kuan-im, Padad Sub-district). It is the most interactive, yet authentic temple I have visited thus far, and because it is set away from the city, there are no tourists. The only other human presence was a female monk, groundskeepers and a few visiting Thai students.
Kuan Yin brings to life significant stories, figures, and traditions in Buddhist culture through colorful larger-than-life animal statues, multiple prayer areas, an indoor room filled with gold everything, and animated religious tales portrayed on the insides of the statues. Yes, people are allowed to actually walk up the tiger or dragon’s tongue and into their mouths, then revealing a long tunnel through the statues’ bodies decorated in rich paintings. Walk, dance or skip all the way to the end and out the buttocks! Just make sure you take off your shoes first.
In a small trinket shop off to the side, the female monk sits behind a stack of tattered books and parched writing scrolls, explaining the purity of vegetarianism under Buddhist belief to those interested. A photograph of this scene would appear to transcend time–I wouldn’t blink an eye if I had been told it was taken in 1920. If you so desire, you can pick up a few seemingly antiquated Chinese language learning manuals for a unique addition to a book collection.