On to Chiang Mai!
Trip Start Mar 19, 2008
21Trip End May 07, 2008
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Where I stayed
Sri Pak Guest House
We stayed at Sri Pak guest house (400 baht/night) with hot water and private bathroom. Outside our door there was a huge mango tree. We toured 5 major Wat's our first day. They are listed below and a little bit of history about each (feel free to skip):
Wat Chet Yot was built by King Tilokkarat in 1453 to
host the Eighth World Buddhist Council. His remains
are in one of the smaller chedis. In 1477, the World
Sangkayana convened here to revise the doctrines of
the Buddha . This wat is markedly different in style from the
others in Chiang Mai . Its unusual design featuring a
main rectangular chedi with seven spires (chet yot)
derives from its Indian inspiration. More
specifically, Wat Chet Yot copies the Mahabodhi Temple
in Bodh Gaya, India , where the Buddha attained
enlightenment. The temple also shows elements of
Burmese, Chinese Yuan, and Ming influence.
Wat Phra Singh-- We happened to arrive at this Wat during 'Monk Chat' so we got to sit and talk to a monk who wanted to practice his English
(Temple of the Sighing Buddha ) was built during the zenith of Chiang Mai's power, and is
one of the more venerated shrines in the city.
To the right as you enter the grounds is the temple
library, dating from the 14th century. Notice the
graceful carving and the characteristic roofline with
four separate elevations. The sculptural devata
(Buddhist spirits) figures, in both dancing and
meditative poses, are thought to date from the early
16th century. They decorate a stone base designed to
keep the fragile sa (mulberry bark) manuscripts
elevated from flooding and rats. Inside are frescoes illustrating the stories of Sang
Thong (the Golden Prince of the Conchshell) and
religious, civil, and military life of 19th-century
Chiang Mai .More than 700 monks study here.
Wat Chedi Luang
(or Jedi Luang) is a ruined 15th-century temple. Here Russel and I lit a candle, incense and left flowers for good luck. The original chedi (pagoda) of Wat Chedi Luang was
built in 1391 during the reign of King Saen Muang Ma,
8th ruler of the Mengrai dynasty. The already-massive chedi was progressively expanded
until it reached it 280 feet (84 meters) in height in
1475, when King Tilokarat made it the home of the
Emerald Buddha, the most important cultural treasure
in Thailand (now in Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo).
The pagoda was heavily damaged in 1545 in a major
earthquake, just 11 years before Chiang Mai fell to
hall has been added next to the ruined pagoda.
Despite its ruined state, a Buddha image still graces
Wat Chedi Luang's exterior, and it's not unusual to
spot a saffron-robed monk bowing to it as he circles
the chedi. The new worship hall at Wat Chedi Luang is decorated
with naga (snake) and peacock motifs
Wat Chiang Man Thought to be Chiang Mai's oldest temple, Wat Chiang
Man was built during the 14th century by King Mengrai,
the founder of Chiang Mai , on the spot where he first
camped. Like many of the wats in Chiang Mai , this complex
reflects many architectural styles. Some of the
structures are pure Lanna. Others show influences from
as far away as Sri Lanka , such as the typical row of
Phra Sritang Khamani (a miniature crystal image also
known as the White Emerald Buddha) and the marble Phra
Sri-la Buddha .
Wat Kutao A short distance northeast of the White Elephant
Monument in Chiang Mai's Chang Puak District stands
perhaps the city's most unusual chedi, the 'watermelon
stupa' of Wat Ku Tao. This chedi, which is unique in
northern Thailand (and quite probably elsewhere), is
built in the form of five diminishing spheres standing
on a low, redented square base.
On Day 2 we took a cooking class at the Chiang Mai Thai cooking school. Lots of fun. In the morning, we were picked up and brought to the local market where we learned about the ingredients we would be cooking with, plus a crash coarse on different types of rice
Once at our cooking stations I could not even look at Russel or we would start to laugh hysterically. Some dishes were a little more fast paced to cook. I look over and see the instructor yelling at Russel to quickly add the pork (step 5 of recipe) when Russel was still pulling the leaves off the basil (step 2). It was pretty intense at times.
Russel: I forgot the steps for one of the dishes and turn to ask Juliet who simply waved me off with a not now look and hand gesture while she continued frantically stirring with one hand and chopping with the other.
We actually learned alot ---how to balance the dish out if too spicy, sweet or salty. What ingredients to add first or last to the dish to keep the flavor and aroma, the difference between using coconut oil and coconut milk
Plus they gave us each the cookbooks with all the recipes--thank goodness I could never recreate my meals without it. Now we are ready to have a Thai Dinner Party!!
On Day 3 we treated ourselves to yet another Thai massages (6 dollars/hour) this time we went to the masseuses who were blind. At one point the masseuse was talking in Thai and laughing hysterically when she was massaging Russel's scalp, Russel was sure they were all laughing about the size of his head. We also ran some errands (bought our bus tickets for our next destination) and in the evening went to the infamous Sunday night market. This market was huge-- selling everything from miniature Buddhas (great for my egg making craft) to artwork to t-shirts, shawls in deep rich colors, jewelry, underwear, and tons of food. The stalls were set up on the streets and in the courtyards of the Wats which were all lit up and looked beautiful at night. I discovered my strong point was my bartering skills so I bought lots of beautiful things. More importantly Russel ate his first 'Bamboo Worm' at the insect food stall (he said it was salty). There were sooo many choices of insects.......silk worms, mole crickets (yes they were moving), whirlig, mole cricket, grasshopper, mackerel with their legs tied up in rubber bands.... some still alive all ready to be scooped into plastic baggies and eaten as snacks! I another note, I tried my first Duran fruit (thanks for the info Dave). It tasted like an extra sugar ripe mango to me, but like a rotten potato to Russel.
On Day 4 we mailed our packages at the post office, walked around the flower market and then started our 7 hour bus journey to Chiang Khon where we would stay overnight and cross the border into Laos to start our slow boat trip down the Mekong.......