Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep & Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai

October 29th, 2007 part 2

The main attraction of Doi Suthep Mountain is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a fairy tale temple over looking Chiang MAi. Before, I wrote that Wat Pho would be a good setting for a scene in a Thai Alice in Wonderland, well, at least a portion of the same film would have to filmed here, as well!

The first thing you are greeted by are the 309 steps, with two long serpent banisters, that you must climb before  entering the extravagant temple. The temple was founded where a white elephant, carry a bone shard said to be from the shoulder blade of Buddha, dropped to the ground and died. The shard was immediately enshrined in the chedi at the centre of the temple. 

My friend Joe asked if I would bring him back a string from a Thai temple that monks tie around your wrist, so in one of the halls in the back, I found a monk who was doing just that. Joe was a bit disappointed when I got back to Korea and he saw it was really just a plain white string. Well, actually, a little less white after being carried through India, Nepal, Singapore, Indonesia, and my final visit to Thailand!

After driving back to Chiang Mai, the driver asked for his pay, but I couldn't understand he English very well, actually, I think he was confused with his English numbers, and I only knew a few Thai numbers. He was either asking for 190, 90, or 19 baht, but I handed him 900. He tried to correct me but then I felt bad, and he had been a really great driver, so I decided to just let him have it, about $30. He told me if I needed anything at all to call him and I thanked him.

Chiang Mai also has a large amount of amazing temples within the walls of the old city. I thought I would visit a few with the remaining daylight but managed just to see a couple, including Wat Chiang Man, likely the oldest temple in the city, with a beautiful chedi with rows of carved elephants for its base, then was about to cross the street to see another temple when a tuk-tuk driver stopped to talk to me and offered to bring me on a temple tour.

We quickly drove passed a few temples, which he named as we putted by, then brought me on an unsolicited shopping tour. I couldn't believe I'd fallen into this trap again, and was do my best to hide my displeasure, but he did end up bringing me to an interesting craft shop that made paper boxes, lacquered, then decorated with egg shells. I bought a box with a horse on it, which they shipped to my mom for me, then we continued on to a few more shops, where I wasn't inclined to buy anything. The shops he brought me to were pretty far from the old city, way passed the train station, and the sun was long gone before we got back. I still had a couple more days before I was heading back to Bangkok, though, so I could still make a day to tour some of the other temples. 

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