Temples and Tantrums – Kids just wanna have fun

If there is one thing I’ve learnt during our tour of South East Asia its that the kids just aren’t that interested in Temples. At the very mention of the ‘T’ word the kids just roll their eyes and groan. I get it. What is exciting or fun about seeing a 1000 year old building? They can’t appreciate how it was built or made that long ago. What perspective do they have to give them a notion of age. For them, 10 years is old. Or if I say “I watched this film when I was six!”, then that is really old.

This tug of war inevitably is won by the grown ups because this tour of Asia is likely only going to happen once. As parents, we are trying to show the kids the world and to appreciate the different religions and beliefs that exist. They now understand that people believe in and pray to different Gods. They get it. What  they don’t want is to be shown temple after temple just because its there. It might have taken few countries for us to Angkor Watcome to an understanding about this, but its fair to that since Siem Reap in Cambodia and the magnificent Angkor Wat, we’ve called it a day.

So what about the tantrums? I must admit that there have been times when I’ve thrown my toys out the pram. There is something about the magical silence that exists around a 1000 year old temple or sacred site. The history of events that have take place on the site and the thousands of worshipers who have sat and prayed; that is something that cannot be touched, but only felt in your core. That magic……is all gone when I shout in a muffled growl, “KIDS!!! Get off the broken walls! READ THE SIGN: ‘No climbing’!.……Shhhhhh, you’re meant to be quiet and thoughtful in here!”

Its not through any lack of respect for the places, it’s because to them, this is  just another old playground. The temples we have Taking in the viewvisited have been of varying degrees of construction and access. Some are now only ruins, some are inside a cave and very basic. We’ve visited extravagant sites with a high ticket price, and some with no ticket office that is way off the tourist trails. Each site we’ve been to has been treated with the same level of respect and curiosity as the last. The kids really do try and act as if they are interested and for the most, they can at least appreciate the splendour of the sites, even if none of us know everything about the religions behind them.

Currently we are in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. Our 10 month trip is coming to an end. However, Chiang Mai houses over 200 temples. In the 3 weeks we’ve been here we’ve yet to visit any. As I type this now we are literally across the road from Wat Chiang Man. It was built in 1296AD and was the first temple in Chiang Mai. I’ve just told Rubes that fact. His response, “Uh huh”. Brilliant! You could say that the kids are ‘templed out’ now. I’d still like to explore some of the temples around were we are. Maybe I’ll have to do it alone?

There is one last thing. In a few days, we travel onto Chiang Rai, even further into northern Thailand, close to border with Myanmar / Burma. Within Chiang Rai is Wat Rong Khun (the famous ‘White Temple’). In contrast to all the other wonders we’ve visited, this temple is new. It was previously in a bad state of repairs and was rebuilt by an artist 20 years ago in a contemporary buddhist style. This will be the final temple of our time away and hopefully the kids won’t mind too much. I’ll be trying my best too to let them enjoy the place as best they can. I’ve heard there is a Golden Toilet there, perhaps that will interest them if nothing else does? We haven’t seen one of those before in all the temples we’ve visited. Whatever happens, hopefully they can rebuild the place in their Minecraft world afterwards.

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