The secret lives of Monks

There are some Buddhist nations around south east Asia that are known – among other things – for their cornucopia of monks. These robed men and children are often seen in the streets collecting alms or do-gooding in some way, but when you look closer you can actually see them chillaxing like any of the other locals!


In Laos, Buddhist monks can be seen everywhere in Luang Prabang, and around the many temples and wats of Vientiane and Champasak. They are very friendly and from what I have seen wear orange coloured robes most of the time. In Laos, monks are trained from early childhood, so by the time of adolescence they are fully-versed in the ways of their religion.


Around Myanmar, one of the best places to observe monks is in Bagan, as in these dusty plains there are hundreds of temples and pagodas where the monks hang out. In particular here in Bagan, many young monks are schooled in the community and can often be seen walking back through the countryside to come back home in the afternoons.

Be respectful of Monks at work (or at play - like these ones at Bayon Temple, Cambodia)
Be respectful of Monks at work (or at play – like these ones at Bayon Temple, Cambodia)

There is always the temptation to believe that Buddhist monks are always praying to doing something related to their religion, but if you look closely enough you can find them at play as well as at work! I know that in Thailand, monks are allowed the freedom of the country, and if monks want to sleep somewhere (i.e. in a shopping centre), they can do so without risk of being moved on by the Police. This can lead to many monks appearing quite cheeky as they go about their daily business (of course they are not cheeky really, it just looks that way) in a nonchalant way.


Being a monk is of course a way of life, and on religious duty they may get to see parts of the world they wouldn’t be able to normally. This is a great opportunity to take photos on their smartphones or their iPads so they can prove they have visited a certain temple to their families back home. The monks I have seen are always happy to play the role of a tourist as they learn more about their surroundings – they seem just as in awe of these Buddhist monuments as I am!


When all is said and done, though, there is one thing that all monks enjoy – and that is chillaxing in the warm weather! Well, unless they’re Tibetan monks, that is, in which case they will have to do their chillaxing indoors!

8 thoughts on “The secret lives of Monks

  1. I’m curious about the lifestyle of monks. They don’t enjoy the usual lifestyle that we have but they always look so calm and at peace with themselves.


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