Skip links

Main navigation


“I spent ten years as a Buddhist Monk but today I am a normal man”. Meet Choi, a brave young man with a strong desire.


I feel a strong responsibility writing this post. I’m concern to a certain extent that I will not make justice to Choi’s words or, even worse, that my words may lack important affirmations and thoughts expressed by him through our conversation.

I am confident, though, that I do also have the responsibility to share this very important awakening moment with you, my aim is to transmit you a tiny portion of thousand feelings that passed through my body and soul while talking to this very wise young man.

It  was one of those happy carefree days in Chiang Mai for me; a lazy morning spent  too engaged in my smart phone. Luckily  for me, a third time in Chiang Mai didn’t stop me of marveling at the sights  of many of its eighty temples within the Old Town and  with the excitement of what it had yet to come, I braved the heat and left for another round of temples and spirituality.  As always, I walked with no direction, the way I believe Chiang Mai is best seen.

Without fail, the city has always provided me with several daily surprises in every corner, what’s not to love about a place that makes you be in awe more times per day that you can count?

As I walked, I came across this temple and nothing other than curiosity made me go inside with the hope to find a specific design to marvel or at very least, some generous shadow to hide from the burning sun.


I liked what a saw right away and I decided to look closer into it. To my delight, as I stepped inside without trying to be intrusive given that the monks usually live in the compounds of the temples, I saw a bridge with beautiful colorful decorations and a river.  It was the first time I saw a temple with such unique features and I decided to walk through it and enjoy the peace and quiet that the place offered.

I noticed that on the other side of the bridge were located the monks houses; I  could see them doing the daily tasks of maintenance and their orange clothes drying in the sun. I thought to myself that it was a beautiful place for a monk to live.

I was deep in thought about nothing important when this guy approached me and said hello. I looked at him and I saw he possessed a genuine smile; his hair was very short and was dressed in normal attire, all blue. I noticed he came from inside the temple.

 For  five seconds I was suspicious. I judge myself for that often but travelling alone has  made me developed an initial lack of trust on everyone that approaches me, I like  to believe that keeping a distance sometimes makes me be safer, however I am learning to slowly let it go and I let  it go with him very quickly because there was something about the way he approached me that I liked.

I said hello and asked him how he was, I was unsure why he approached me but I have learnt in my travels that sometimes the nicest conversations start with a complete lack of an idea of why you end up talking to a complete stranger.

Many times, that complete stranger ends up enriching your life forever and you realize that is good to let go of prejudices and let life surprise you by letting be approached and to approach.

Meaningful people sometimes come like that.

I  started firing at him questions, I don’t why I didn’t wait but I felt that he was looking  for a conversation with a Westerner person, something that is not entirely surprising as some locals may look for opportunities to improve their English.


I  think the moment was timed perfectly to find each other; I believe Choi was  possibly looking desperately for someone to share this exciting confession  and I was grateful to have a conversation with a local that would provide me with a real insight of a spiritual existence.
Something  made me ask him if he was a monk. I felt stupid asking that question given that he was  dressed in normal clothes but there was something about him that made me feel  calm.

He  said that yes, he was. He  was a monk for ten years until the day before. Now this  is not something that you are prepared to hear in any casual conversation. He  could see the surprise in my face and I suppose he was quite delighted by my  reaction, one that he would have to endure for quite a long time from people  until the novelty runs off.

What makes a man who has spent the last ten years happily as a novice monk to suddenly want to be normal again?  Choi was very simple and wise man and so were his words; he just wanted to live a normal life, work and start a family. A beautiful desire and who can blame him? I couldn’t even think clear; there were so many questions I wanted to ask him! I could not even to start understanding the simplicity of his desire to join our world.

I don’t know the history behind each monk, why their desire to live a life of sacrifice is big enough to retire themselves from the world as we know it. Choi helped me to understand that there is no right or wrong decisions and that anything done from the heart is done well.

2015-05-01 15.05.14

Choi  comes from a village in North Thailand. He remembers from a younger age seeing  in his village a monk. He tells me that he also remembers that this man seemed  to possess great inner pace and seemed always to have an aura of satisfaction  about him. He said he liked that; he wanted to feel like that, too.

He  said that many of his friends preferred to play or fight but he wanted to have what that monk had.
Choi joined a temple as a novice monk aged eleven and never looked back. He tells me that he has been very happy for ten years, he is sad to go. The monks that had become his family are also sad to see him go but they understand his desire to join the world.

He is not afraid to go out there and tells me that he will be fine, it will take some adaption but he will be fine. I listen to this young man and his cheerful confidence and I decided there and then that if anything comes good from the last ten years, it has to be his wisdom.

We  talked about the people, I want to be the voice of reason because even though I  don’t know him, I badly don’t want anyone to hurt him and I tell him that not  everyone is good out there, I feel I have to protect him before he gets hurt.

 I asked him to please be careful, not to  trust, and to go with his guts. He calms me down and tells me that his years meditating will help him to deal with a bad situation entirely different as any of us would.
 I look into his eyes and I know this young man  will be fine and will learn new lessons when the moment comes. In the meantime,  he smiles at his new life knowing already that it will be very complicated before it gets easier.
I asked him several questions about his life as a monk and he patiently helps me to understand their day to day; their sacrifices, the satisfactions and the richness that lies on the simplicity of their lives.
He  tells me about a new generation of monks; those who we see using smart phones and Internet, purchasing stuff. I now understand that a monk cannot be  disconnected from the world and it makes sense. He tells me that as monk he  watched football matches on TV and enjoys my reactions.  I think he mostly  enjoys quite the fact that we know nothing about them and yet we judge them.
We talk about us; Westerners. I tell him about Europe, about why we come here, why  we take so many pictures of them.
I found myself badly wanting to be understood  by him on why we act in a certain way and I feel I must apologise for the whole  Western world for the intrusive pictures we may have taken of him and thousands  of others.
I  love every minute of our conversation and I have a strong feeling of being enormously lucky that I have met him. He shows me that maturity can come in any age, shape  or sex.
An eleven year old boy knew exactly what he wanted while I’m  standing in front of him still trying to figure out the direction of my life.
He is aware that life is complicated but also knows that is not so much what you deal  with but the way you deal with it and I just wish I could have his knowledge  and wisdom to deal with my own life.
He moves forward but keeps looking back not to lose sight of who he is been and  where is he going.

I  thank him for a profound insight in his life as a monk and for sharing his  life expectations with me. I look back at him one more time and he is standing in the bridge smiling brightly and waving me goodbye.

He  has decided to stay in the temple one more week to give himself time to adapt  before leaving this life as he has known it for the last ten years.

I  know Choi will do well in life.


Reader Interactions


  1. Wow montse, definately, atonished about this post. Again, i cannot decide which one is the best.
    What i know is that this one is breathtaking, i amspeechless.
    you are so lucky to have had this conversation.
    I am still speachless.
    Heart touching

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge