Have to say, I really like this northern Thai city that’s found at the base of the Himalayan ranges. The terrain is flat and the walking is good. It’s also quite pretty with its many elaborate temples and grassy canals that come with fountains. And…it’s very green.
We arrived here on the night train from Ayutthaya. I’d booked second class sleepers online for the 11 hour trip. We boarded at 8 pm and within the hour our beds were made up for us. Nothing more to do but climb onto the top bunk (yes, my husband scored the bottom bunk!), read to my heart’s content and fall asleep. Love train travel. Don’t do it often enough.
Arrived in Chiang Mai, made our way to our hotel with its roomy rooms and its very welcoming cafe where a good strong coffee worked its early morning magic.
If you’re a temple tragic like me, then you’ll be in your element – Chiang Mai is a treasure trove of wats. Some are simply beautiful. Thais are particularly devoted to their Buddhist faith and justifiably proud of their temples. The main temples are home to an entire complex of buildings which include an ordination hall, an assembly hall, living quarters for monks – the list goes on. Getting ordained as a monk seems to be the norm for Thai males. This can be as short as a few days or as long as a year.
The temples’ interiors often heave with elaborate decorations. Gold is used extensively. The first two photos are of the mother of all temples Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which is set high on a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai.
It is a bit of a climb to get there but the ‘photo for money’ girls along the stairs make the going a bit easier.
The next lot of photos are of different wats I found on my very easy walks around the Old City.
A few years ago, I sat next to a Laotian monk on the short flight from Luang Prabang in Laos to Hanoi. He spoke perfect English and had a most interesting story to tell. On board with him were his Vietnamese wife and three bubbly kids. Believe it or not, they hailed from a farm in Western Australia where they grew ‘very straight’ cucumbers for Coles and Woolworths. Every two years he makes his way to Laos to attend monk school for three weeks. I gained a most wonderful insight into his religion – more his way of life really and couldn’t help but be impressed by his passion and commitment. Some of the temples we visited had ‘Chat with a Monk’ booths set up where English speakers are encouraged to talk to the monks to help improve the monks’ English. It’s a fantastic idea.
Chiang Mai’s Old City was once a walled city and remnants of the wall and gates from the 13th century are still on show. The moats, now called canals still surround the Old City and they are very pretty.
When it’s too far to walk, there’s always a songthaew or tuk tuk.
More green space – this time a public park.
Chiang Mai street scenes.
Still loving the food…
Plenty of expats live here so guess that’s confirmation enough that Chiang Mai is a pretty fine place to live.
Next stop Chiang Rai…