I’m in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s unofficial “capital of the north”. It’s a fitting place to start my first visit to South East Asia. The city has a very laid-back and friendly feel to it and is very easy to get around, despite having the second largest population in Thailand. It also has an interesting mix of people. The city has the greatest concentration of handicraft industries in the country. It also has a large commercial center and university, as well as a lot of temples. There are nearly 300 wats, a number that rivals Bangkok, the country’s religious and monarchical center. I spent my first day exploring the old town, and met this monk at the Wat Phan Tao temple. The name Wat Phan Tao means “Monastery of a Thousand Kilns”. It is believed to refer to the casting of the numerous Buddha images for its even bigger neighbour, Wat Chedi Luang, located right next door.