The Buddhist religion is an enormous part of Thailand's life and culture. We saw more temples than I could keep track of. They're beautiful and ornate. Most are open to tourists to visit. They ask visitors to cover their knees and shoulders and remove their shoes out of respect. (click to enlarge)
Another interesting aspect were the numerous Spirit Houses that were kept in businesses, homes, even open fields and roadsides. It was explained that these houses are more or less tributes to ancestors and those who have passed on. You will always see water bottles, meals, even beer or fried chicken sitting on these Spirit Houses as gifts to those gone. They may be to passed away loved ones, or to unknown spirits. If someone is building a business, they will also make a spirit house in tribute to whoever lived and died on that land before them, though they never knew them personally.
This was a large Spirit House by our hotel in Bangkok
These workers take a break near a small Spirit House
It's also common to see monks. Buddhist in Thailand (which is around 90% of the population), the men are required to be a monk for a period of time. We were told the minimum amount of time is just 1 week, but it's a major part of a Buddhist's life. I wanted to get better photos, but I felt a little odd trying to snap their picture. That's why these are from behind!
This group of monks sat in front of us on the plane ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
I admit, I never knew much about the Buddhist religion, and still don't really. But I learned that they do teach love and respect for all living things. This makes the common practice of elephant abuse and torture all that more puzzling, considering the elephant is not only a national symbol of pride, but a religious god as well (Ganesha). However, there are probably just as many Christians in the world who don't practice Christ's teachings of love and acceptance. I guess in any case, human nature gets in the way and no one has the right to judge.