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 complete with fountains. And…it’s very green.
We arrived here on the night train from Ayutthaya. I had 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.
If you’re a temple tragic like me, then 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 to as long as a year.
The temples’ interiors often heave with elaborate decorations. Gold is used extensively. The first few 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 these ‘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 walks around the Old City.
A few years ago, I sat next to a 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 Western Australia where they grew ‘very straight’ cucumbers for Coles and Woolworths. Their trip to Laos was prompted by his need to attend monk school for three weeks. He does this every two years. In the course of the conversation, he gave me an insight into his religion – well, his way of life really. I 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 about their lives in an attempt to help improve the monks’ English. What 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…
Loved our room ….
Also loved the cafe attached to our hotel – able to continue feeding my coffee addiction right here in Chiang Mai…
Picking up our laundry – in the street behind our hotel – beautifully washed and ironed.
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…