I have spent many a New Year's eve welcoming the turn of the midnight clock in various different ways: from witnessing flare guns going up in the Galapagos, to dancing along atop the walled colonial city if Cartagena, to gathering around with friends and enjoying the fireworks launched from the iconic Space Needle of Seattle. But perhaps nothing was as unique as watching the clock turn while monks chanted away through the night.
I was walking through the bustling night market of Chiang Mai on New Year's eve when I noticed an old temple decked out with lamps and festive lights. As I wandered in, the din of the crowds outside died away, leaving behind a peaceful chant of monks from within the temple. As I proceeded further, I came across this beautiful setting: a Golden Buddha sitting beneath a festive Bodhi tree with oil lamps flickering all around. As I watched, monks, young and old, walked silently along a bamboo pathway, and kneeled down interspersed between the lamps. And they started praying, recreating the famous enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama under the Bodhi tree, with the disciples receiving blessings from him.
I paused from photography, put my camera down, and closed my eyes to immerse myself in the moment.