After we settled into our lovely room, we decided to give ourselves some much needed exercise, and followed our guide book on a walking tour of the temples. We visited the Wat Phra Singh, with its wonderful lions standing proud at the gates. It was amazing to see temples built from wood. Although the temples in Bangkok are stunning, the temples in Chiang Mai are beautiful by being more modest. With less glitter and gold they fit in perfectly with the peaceful surroundings. Wat Phan Tao was a lovely teak wood temple, that had a wonderful delicately painted interior. We were lucky enough to hear the history of the temple from a local professor who was passing. It is still so revitalizing to meet so many thai people who want to impart their knowledge to you
. We feel continually welcomed. It is heart warming to see the importance their religion and culture has in their lives. This was even more obvious, when we trekked up the 1676m road, on a little moped, to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. There was such a variety of old and young visiting the temple, it amazed me. The steep 306 steps, with its naga;
meaning mythical, magical serpent like being, stair rail, was definitely worth it. Because at the top, was not only a spectacular view of Chiang Mai through the hazy clouds, but also the shining and sparkling gold chedi.
It was incredible, especially as we had been blessed with heavenly sunshine and a wonderful blue sky. We followed on to the Royal Winter palace, which had wonderful, colourful flowers and even a rose garden, which really reminded me of home. The palace itself was a surprise as it was so modest, and lovely to see that a modern building was still built in the thai style.
Chiang Mai Zoo was also a great experience, although hard to not feel some worry for the animals in their fairly small enclosures. I was very excited to see a white Bengal tiger, as I adore white tigers. He was so big and proud as he walked in-front of us. The amazing 113m long aquarium was also incredible. It had the long tunnel with fresh water and separately saltwater fish, swimming around and over you, which meant being surrounded by sharks, rays, groupers and so many more. It was beautiful. The aquarium also had hundreds of other tanks with cute little clown fish, seahorses (which i squealed like a little girl about), bat fish, blue-spotted rays and even some lion fish and trigger fish, which was really awesome as we had learned about them in the scuba diving
. It was a totally brilliant day at the zoo. With our last bit of energy we ventured to the Saturday walking street market which was mind blowing. It went on for miles along this narrow street on the south of the old city walls. There were stalls with everything and the same, but it was so mesmerizing, I just couldn't stop walking and turn around. There were stalls for jewelry, clothes, wooden gifts, metal pictures that had been hammered into shape and a lot of delicious food stalls. We stuffed our faces with pad thai, fried rice, spring rolls and sweet waffles. The prices were so reasonable we couldn't resist. Hilariously, we saved the dessert stall until the end, where they had various brightly coloured looking sweets, which we were so excited about. They turned out to not be sweet at all, but a rather odd texture and flavour, so we gave them to the lady at our guest house. We have also managed to squeeze the Sunday night market, apparently 'the original'. It was similar to the night before, but showed a lot more art, which was great to see. We also managed to find some delicious cupcakes and a chocolate brownie, so I was a very happy lady.
With two days left until our visas expired and our Laos visit began, we hopped up to Chiang Rai. Although we didn't get much time to see it, too much time spent attempting to get hold of Natwest - to no avail, we felt it a rather quiet place. The Nigh Bazaar however was lovely, more stalls that tempted our eyes, but more of a range of hill tribe items
. We tried the mini eggs we had been noticing which were delicious, especially with a few drops of soy sauce. I also found myself a scarf, so I could cover my shoulders in Laos, which perfectly suited me; leopard print, skulls and roses! Dave found a gorgeous thai silk tie with tiny elephants, and being less tired than the previous night we discovered beautiful jewelry (I bought an elephant ring) and these wonderful framed pictures, some coloured glass, with sand in between two layers, so when you turn them upside down, the sand slowly falls to the bottom, making beautiful patterns. We also found a lovely little restaurant, sadly i can't remember the name just now, but the ladies working there were lovely, and made the best pineapple shake I have had so far!
So the north of Thailand was beautiful, peaceful and in definite need of a second visit! Now, I await the beauty of Laos!
So, Wow! Chiang Mai is a beauty! So beautiful, calm and peaceful. Even after the 14 hour train journey up here, seated in the back of our taxi at 8am, we had smiles on our faces. We have crammed as much in as possible in our short stay, from temples to zoo's.