Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 1 - Bangkok & Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak
Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 3 - Chiang Mai & Thai Farm Cooking School

Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 2 - Chiang Mai & Temples

Part One.

We could have spent longer in Bangkok. After 3 nights in Bangkok, it was time to make our way to Chiang Mai. For this trip I decided to do something a little different. It is often quite tempting to try and load the itinerary with as many cities, and sites as possible. I decided not to do that. I wanted a vacation where we had the time to really experience what we could in the time we had available. 

We had flights pre-booked from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I had also arranged to be fetched from our hotel and taken to the Suvarnabhumi Airport. We had a little bit of a wait at the airport. Enough time to grab a snack and a cup of coffee.

The flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is approximately 55 minutes. We flew Thai Airways. We were impressed with the service and the very new aircraft we flew in. I had arranged to be met at airport in Chiang Mai and taken to our hotel - Holiday Inn. I am glad for our first visit we did this. However, Chiang Mai is a very easy city to navigate so I think next time catching a taxi, or arranging with the hotel to fetch us would be perfectly acceptable. Check in time at our hotel was 3pm. We arrived early (our flights were in the morning) so our rooms were not ready. However, we wandered around the hotel taking photos, and before long they had advised us that our room was ready. We had received an upgrade to a spacious suite on the 10th floor which included an enormous living room. The bed was king size with a fabulous mattress. Our suite was part of a number of reconditioned suites that the Holiday Inn were offering. Included in our package was free wifi, 2 pieces of free laundry per day, and access to the Executive Lounge on the 25th floor (that's where we had breakfast.) The hotel's reception, and some of its passage ways have a little of a retro or dated feel. But we had a very comfortable 10 nights.


This is a photo of the hotel gardens along the Ping River.


This is a photo of the hotel itself.

I had pre-booked a half day Chiang Mai City and Temple Tour on the same day that we arrived from Bangkok. I booked an afternoon tour because our flights to Chiang Mai arrived in the morning. I was glad that our rooms were ready. At least we could freshen up before our next tour.

We were collected at our hotel. I did not quite realize how crowded it would be. But it was a holiday weekend, and in Thailand Monday and Tuesday were also public holidays. This meant that it took forever to get to the Temple at Doi Suthep (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.) The traffic that wound up the mountain road to the temple was almost a parking lot.


We stood in long lines to catch the elevators to the top. We had to take off our shoes, and leave them with the hordes and hordes of people who were also visiting. It was the most beautiful Temple. It was amazing see visitors, tourists and believers. 


 And... This photo is a picture of believers who are walking around the Chedi three times, praying.


We received a monk's blessing similar to what is these folks are receiving. 


Our guide, Nan explained to us that the temple was really different without people. We quickly organized with him a private tour to come to the Temple at Sunrise in a couple of days time (on Thursday, January 5, 2017.)

The difference was quite remarkable. We got some incredible shots of the temple at sunrise. We had foggy, misty weather. We got some really incredible atmospheric photos.


It was so different without the crowds.


We had time to pay attention to the details.. Nan our tour guide explained that every Thai male will come to a temple twice in their lives. Once when they are children - around 7 - 9 years old, for about a month. At that time they learn the history of Buddhism. Later from about 18 onwards, young men become monks for additional study. They will wear the orange/ saffron robes. They will sleep and study in the temple. Each morning they will take alms - food from the community. Nan explained that according to Buddha's teachings one must take only what one needs. No more. This period of learning usually is around 3 months. The young man's family may visit, and bring food. Different temples will specialize in different types of teachings. Some temples will specialize in meditation, for example. Nan also explained to us about learning how to pray. The flowers are the offering. The candles and smoke are significant, as smoke is the bridge from our world to the other.


 This photo above is a close up, and shows one of the flower offerings. The fog made for some atmospheric photos...




Over the 10 nights that we stayed in Chiang Mai we had the time to explore, and relax. We found the food to be amazing. Especially the street food, and the little "mom and pop" places that magically would appear, and would have the most magical food. We found many laundry places that charge by the kilogram. Prices varied from 40 to 80 baht per kg. Chiang Mai itself is very walkable. Tuk tuks are mostly found around the old city, night market, night bazaar and the Saturday walking market. Strangely when we really really wanted a tuk tuk, they would vanish.

The Old City is clearly defined by a moat.


There are occasional pedestrian bridges, that I found to be quite pretty.


The Old City Moat walls are still around, but are in ruins.


For many days that we were in Chiang Mai it was overcast, and rainy. The locals assured us that this was not seasonal. It is not the rainy season. We did not mind the overcast, nor slightly drizzly weather. It made for great photos.

Wandering around Chiang Mai was fascinating. We really didn't go into any museums, or visit any other temples (and there are a lot of temples to see.) Instead we wandered, people watched, took photos, and found wonderful tasty surprises.


Chiang Mai has many many temples. These photos are of Wat Suandok. 


 It was beautiful. 


While we were there women were starting to arrive. We asked Nan what this was about. He explained that the women were coming to the temple to pray for a good 2017. (We visited this temple December 31, 2016.) 

We found the monks in their orange robes very photogenic.