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Handily, in the midst of my deeply profound contemplation, I see a banner in the distance: "Monk Chat", it re. Getting closer, I realise it's an opportunity to have all of my burning monk-related questions answered. I'm in Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand and the spiritual heartland of the country.

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I'm in Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand and the spiritual heartland of the country. Given the population is 95 percent Buddhist, religion infiltrates almost every aspect of life, so if you want to gain an insight into the importance it plays, then an aptly named monk chat — a one-on-one chat with a real-life monk — is the way to do it. Along with a few other enlightenment-seekers, I'm led to a table and sit opposite a smiling, shaven-headed monk.

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After introductions and small talk, I discover he's 23, is called Chatri which means "brave knight" and has been an ordained monk for almost three years. We get down to the nitty gritty with my first question: Just what is it, exactly, that monks do all day? Chatri tells me monm the daily routine for him — and for most monks — is pretty much the same: Rising at 4am, he meditates and chants for two hours, then it's time for Almsgiving.

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As monks can't earn money, they survive on charity from people through donations, which means walking the local area to receive offerings of food and other goods, before returning to the temple to eat. The rest of the day is spent studying, reading, meditating and praying.

Plus, there's rules. Lots of them.

Both Buddhist monks and novices live according to the Ten Precepts — kind of like the Ten Commandments — and in Theravada Buddhism there's a whopping additional regulations. The basic Precepts are fairly run-of-the-mill — "do not kill" and "do not steal" — but other rules regulate things like when they can eat.

A monk can only consume food between dawn and midday no wonder they're all svelte and toned. Handily, in the midst of my deeply profound contemplation, I see a banner in the distance: "Monk Chat", it re. Getting closer, I realise it's an opportunity to have all of my burning monk-related questions answered.

I'm in Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand and the spiritual heartland of the country. Given the population is 95 percent Buddhist, religion infiltrates almost every aspect of life, so if you want to gain an insight into the importance it plays, then an aptly named monk chat — a one-on-one chat with a real-life monk — is the way to do it.

Along with a few other enlightenment-seekers, I'm led to a table and sit opposite a smiling, shaven-headed monk. After introductions and small talk, I discover he's 23, is called Chatri which means "brave knight" and has been an ordained monk for almost three years.

We get down to the nitty gritty with my first question: Just what is it, exactly, that monks do all day? Chatri tells me that the daily routine for him — and for most monks — is pretty much the same: Rising at 4am, he meditates and chants for two hours, then it's time for Almsgiving. As monks can't earn money, they survive on charity from people through donations, which means walking the local area chaf receive offerings of food and other goods, before returning to the temple to eat.

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The rest of the day is spent studying, reading, meditating and praying. Plus, there's rules.

Lots of them. Both Buddhist monks and novices live according to the Ten Precepts — kind of like the Ten Commandments — and in Theravada Buddhism there's a whopping additional regulations.