Religion + Travel

Written by doubleoexplorers
Actually, the most extraordinary thing about being 
in a new country is experiencing how mass is celebrated.


The local church in a village approx. 2 hours outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Inside the chapel, it is very simple.  There are no benches, 
just several mats that were rolled out for people to sit on.

The entire chapel was filled!  All the villagers came out 😀

I love how mass is something many people celebrate around the world.  We are all so different, in terms of culture, language and location, but there is still that one common thing that we share. 

Although it is the same form of worship, the way it is celebrated is slightly different depending on the culture of that country.  

Seeing how their culture is integrated into the Catholic faith by how their mass is celebrated makes the experience very unique.  

What surprised me even more than the simplicity of the building, was that during the time to collect money where people have the option to donated money to their church, everyone around me gave something even though they really do not have much.

Another church in one of the villages near Phnom Penh.  haha the neon lights kills me though. 

Inside the Don Bosco Technical School, Phnom Penh.


Padaung Village, northern Thailand

After being with these girls for 2 months, I visited them during Christmas with my sister.  Other than home, there’s no other place I would wanna spend Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, they sang songs and put on skits for the villagers just outside the church.  It was really sweet, and it was so nice to see the effort the girls put in as well as how appreciative all the villagers were. 

The local church, Chom Thong

Every Sunday, the villagers would wear their traditional Padaung outfits to church – seriously the most beautiful clothes with the most intricate patterns.   After practicing two nights a week, every week, my group of girls would sing every Sunday while the Sister who takes care of them plays the keyboard at the front of the room.  The priest drives up from Chiangmai every Sunday to conduct mass..dunno how he can wake up so early haha.    

The local church, Chom Thong

The opening of a new church in a northern village.

Inside another church in a northern village. 


Tsagaan Sar (Mongolia New Year) in Darkhan, Mongolia

During Tsagaan Sar, each household puts out a pyramid stacked shape built big flat cookies and then filled with fermented goat’s milk chews and candy.  The number of layers on the pyramid depends on the oldest member in the household.  It also cannot be an even number.  So if the older person is 40, they can have 3 layers, 3 layers for 30 years old since the next one up is 5 layers for 50 years old.  When I visited Mongolia, it was during their new year and so the church also had one.  Except this one is 11 layers because in their culture, only God is allowed to have 11 layers.

There is also a specific way to take the candy off the pyramid (touching the bottom of it with your left hand first) and when you visit someone’s home during the near year, you have to take something from the pyramid.  It was really awesome to see how their culture is intergraded into their religion as well.  At the end of mass, everyone lined up and got a piece of candy from the front – not because they wanted to, but because it is part of their routine during the new year. 


Inside the church in Darkhan.

Although we’ve heard of Christianity in some way or form ever since we were little, this is actually someone the Mongolians were introduced to just about 20 years ago.  The cities in Mongolia didn’t start becoming a city until 20 years ago anyway and most of the people in the country still live in gers in the countryside (aka the most beautiful country that still has most of their culture preserved because tourism has not exploited the land yet).  So yes, basically missionaries didn’t start arriving until that time as well.  So it was definitely an eyeopener when I saw a good amount of people going for Sunday mass.  


Photo taken by Benjamin Vander Steen,
Haha no the pic ain’t a mistake.  Sundays at 10 am at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing!  

Totally had no idea what I was doing when I folded this thing. 
haha but it worked

Honestly I don’t even know what is legit and what isn’t.  Im sure you know what I mean by that…I’ve seen some pretty sketchy churches in China that are actually freaky with weird banners and stuff posted everywhere.

There some other around the city, like the one at the art gallery in Shunyi, but that’s way too far for me.  I DO love going to the embassy reminds me so much of home.  They use one of their rooms for mass every Sunday.  You do need your passport to go in, and it cannot be a Chinese passport.  That’s what makes it more legit, although I’m not sure if it is 100% legit.  It’s in English and French and people are just so polite and so nice (hence THE FEEELING OF HOME!)  Today is Palm Sunday… I didn’t even know hahah until I saw the palm leaves there. Dunno how they managed to get palm leaves, but it was really cool – another thing that reminds me of home. 😀

Leave a Reply

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