Near Tao Garden in Doi Sakhet is a beautiful Buddhist temple that has the most contemporary wall paintings I have ever seen in Thailand. A young Thai artist took 4 years to paint them and they look like an acid trip was his inspiration.
According to my friend and colleague, Dirk Al (who spent some time as a monk in Thailand), around 70% of the males in Thailand have been monks at one time or another since it is considered part of becoming a man (an initiation to some degree) and there are some families that cannot afford to care for their children. The monastery is considered to be a safe place for them.
Because of the conditioning of the culture around sexuality, men in the monastery receive the Buddhist training that enlightens them to know what to do at the moment of death. Women, well, women on the other hand are left out of the equation. Their initiation is often prostitution. So you have this extreme of celibacy on the one hand and prostitution on the other. Our cultural neurosis has tacitly encouraged and supported this division which began to firmly take hold in Thailand with the American service men who went to Bangkok during the Vietnam War.
You can truly see here the global implication of the mind/body split that is prevalent throughout the world. The western cultures have exported their sexual frustrations and imbalances to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam with their sex tours and patronizing of the sex industry in these countries which has in turn, supported the sexism of the prevailing organized religion (Theravada Buddhism) here.
Monks eat only one meal a day and they must beg for it. When I am at Tao Garden, we often take an early morning excursion to visit the temple and buy food for the monks. Their chanting is a blessing given to those who feed them.