Day 10: Chiang Mai Temples

After our delicious dinner the night before and getting some rest in our lovely hotel room, we were refreshed and ready to start our first full day in Chiang Mai.

Here are some of the breakfast options.
The woven basket is used to cover the food to keep flies out since the dining area was outside.

Heinz makes a hot sauce here.
The best part here was that for your hot food items you ordered off a menu, but it was part of your included breakfast.  They are a smaller hotel and breakfast runs for a few hours, so it is would not make sense to cook large portions of hot foods and just leave them out.  Everything was made to order.  So we both tried the Thai omelet service with rice (hiding underneath).
This is inside the bar area, which I thought was decorated very nicely.
Then our tour guide picked us up and we headed up into the mountains to check out Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.  On the way up we saw many students getting ready for a parade up towards the temple.
There are lots of little shops set up at the base of the temple area.

Here are some more pictures I took around the bottom area before we walked up.  There are two options to get to the top.  One is to walk and the other is to take a motorized cart (I actually never even saw what it looks like, but it pulls you up the mountain).

Here I am getting ready to head up to the main stairs area.  There are 309 stairs to get to the top, which is more than there were to climb up at Batu Caves in Malaysia.
All along the stairs people were selling fruits and souvenirs.

Here is the main set of stairs that goes all the way to the temple.
There are some other little shrine areas around that area too just before heading up.  Everything looked so beautiful and colorful so I think I took pictures of just about everything I could!
I love the serpent heads here and how the body goes all the way up the stairs.  This is pretty much what the temples look like at the entrances, but this is different because it goes on and on before getting to the actual entrance of the temple.
Very ornate!
Looking back down.
Here we are just getting ready to visit the temple.
Again, I love all of the colors and the beautiful golden decorations, so I took a lot of pictures.

Lots of stray dogs around here, although I do think they actually belong to someone, or at least some do.  

This was pretty cool and different from the other railing decorations.
I wish it hadn't been so foggy out because the view was really very nice.  The photos make it a lot harder to see but we could get a view of the city.
Pretty tree in the temple area.

This is called "peacefully resting dogs"!  They were all over the place, but most had collars.
More beautiful pictures of the temple area.

Cute cafe!

The white elephant.  Once you have reached enlightenment you can tell if the elephant is a white elephant.  The story here at the white elephant shrine is that the white elephant climbed all the way up and then when it reached this spot it laid down and died.
Once inside you are able to see the giant golden spire of the temple.  I should mention that at this point you are barefoot because shoes must be off to enter the shrine.  You also need to have knees and shoulders covered out of respect.  If you are not prepared there are people around to sell or let you borrow a scarf to wrap around you.

Lots of Buddha statues around here.
This is a reclining buddha.  

Here we are with a Buddha.
I love this picture.  Much thanks to our guide for taking this for us.
Of course, more Buddhas!

Then we came back down to the city and visited 2 more temples.  Unfortunately, I do not know the names of both.  But they were both very beautiful and worth visiting.  The thing is that Chiang Mai has a ton of temples so they are pretty much everywhere.  We were constantly passing by temples.
This one had great pictures inside talking about Buddha and his path to enlightenment.

I took this picture because if you look closely you can see Jewish stars in the tiling.
This was the second of those 2 temples that we visited later that morning.
The monks that were in school studying were just finishing lunch.  They only eat two meals per day (no eating after noon), so they were quickly finishing their last bites before cleaning up as we entered the temple.

The gold is really a lot more vibrant than you would expect, even knowing what gold leaf looks like.
Nope, not real.  It is a wax figure of a monk that is memorialized here.
He died back in 2009.
I was really a little scared that it was real and he would get up and walk away.
This is the final view of the temple as we left the area and headed back to the hotel
We exited the old walled city, crossing over where the moat was and some of the remaining old city walls.
On our way back to the hotel Ryan spotted a restaurant called Sababa.  Knowing that we had an Israeli restaurant in Vegas called Sababa he recognized that this would be Israeli food, which meant some hummus and falafel.  

The hotel offered tuk-tuk service.  Tuk-tuks are the main "taxi" in Thailand.  They are small, motorized 3 wheeled carts.  They can wiggle through traffic and don't cost a whole lot.  This is a pretty fancy version since it is from the hotel.  I will have other pictures later of the "real" tuk-tuks.  It is quite an experience!
On the way we passed by this bike version of a tuk-tuk (like a rickshaw) and the driver was getting his after lunch nap in.
Lunch was at Sababa!  We managed to go back and find it.
I was surprised to see that right across the street was another Israeli restaurant.
We ordered some hummus, falafel and pita.  Yum!  Yes, I know we are in Thailand and should be eating Thai food, but we actually don't have access to this kind of food in Japan so this was a treat for us to stumble upon.
We realized this wasn't too far from the hotel so we decided to walk back to the hotel and take a look at some stores along the way.  Of course we passed more temples.  But also in this picture you can see a tuk tuk and then a songthaew, which is the red truck.  It's like a pick up truck with two benches in the back and covered over.  They pile people in these and they are all over the place.
The coolest thing we stumbled across was a lady selling ice cream from a cart she was pushing down the street.  I saw a lot of interesting food carts, some pushed and some that were motorized, but we knew to be cautious about street food, so we didn't stop.  This time we were walking by and our curiosity took over and we turned to look.  We kept walking but the current customer saw we were interested and called us over.  He spoke some English so it was helpful.  He told us it was coconut ice cream.  Being lovers of ice cream, we decided to give it a try.  Let me just say this brings a whole new meaning to ice cream fact, it is the most literal meaning of all.  This was a slice of bread, cut in half, and filled with coconut ice cream, vanilla ice cream, some jelly like pieces and peanuts.  So weird, yet so good!
And that's what I call an ice cream sandwich!
Couldn't resist!  See, McDonald's is everywhere.  This was extra funny because it had a massage type place above it.
It was during the day so the Bazaar was closed, but we still walked down the street and took a look.
I matched the flowers so I couldn't resist stopping for a photo.  That's the Ping River in the background.
Dinner was at a place called The Gallery.  It was built in 1892 and has been in the family ever since.  Apparently Hillary Clinton ate here back when she was the First Lady.  I loved the location with the river view and the serene setting outdoors.
Eating here transported me back in time and I felt like I was on a sugar plantation or something like that (or that I imagine that would be like).

They were playing traditional music for us while we dined.  It really helped create the perfect ambiance.  
We even tried the white wine.  It was fair, but I wasn't expecting it to be excellent since they are not known for their wine anyway.
I started with the papaya salad and salted crab.
Ryan had a mixed fruit salad with pomelo.  I guess I never realized that pomelo was native to Thailand and popular here.  I know we have it in the US and it is a citrus fruit, so for some reason I thought it was native to a different area, although Thailand does make sense with it's tropical climate.
I had the shrimp pad Thai.  It was awesome!
Ryan had a soup with noodles dish, but I can't recall which one it was.  I know he said it was good, but a little into the meal a giant fly came and landed in the bowl and that pretty much ended his dinner right there.  Oops!
By then we were exhausted but we had a little time so we walked a little more at the night market before calling it quits and heading back to the hotel for some sleep.  We would need it because the next day we had some major adventure planned.  Stayed tuned, you will not be disappointed with what comes next!

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to a Buddhist temple?  Have you tried pomelo?  Have you ever had to "abandon" your meal due to an unexpected visitor?


Amanda said...

Beautiful! I've always wanted to visit Thailand! That shrimp pad Thai looks delish!

Unknown said...

The dogs are freakin' me out. This is so cool, you guys are so fortunate to get to take all these amazing trips!! But, plz come home to the US one day :) xo!

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