Thailand - Chiang Mai

NOTE: The travel adventure to Thailand involved three currencies, ten airplane rides, sky-trains, taxis, motorbikes, ferries, bicycles and good old fashioned walking.  Carina waited for us in Pohnpei.

Updated March 23, 2017

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From Bangkok

we flew to Chiang Mai in the north of the country.

Chiang Mai

is a back-packer and trekker mecca. Pizza and veggie selections were common menu items.

Our Street

was Soi 7 Moon Muang Rd. Inside the moated old town of Chiang Mai.

At the End

of our soi was Wat Lam Chang, the elephant Wat. Nearly deserted most of the time, its grounds were pleasant

One Surpise

in Chiang Mai was the availability of superb coffee on almost every street corner.

One Block Over

over was the Somphet Market; "our" market.

Chiang Mai

blends the old and the new seemingly seamlessly.

It is a Town

of lanterns and flags.

A Wai Is

- something that was shared often here. It was important to know how to wai back.


well-tended shrines.

Our Soi

also had a few laundries that catered to locals and back-packers too. This day the red-robed monk laundry was drying.

Culturaly Lanna

its Buddha images are different than those we saw in Bangkok

As a Backpacker

town, there were many veggie hangouts. This one The Funky Dog was using their security doors to exhibit Buddhist philosophy.


guesthouses are all over Chiang Mai and prices vary widely. We loved the name of this one tucked away on some tiny soi.

We Didn't

partake but it gave us a smile.

Good Idea!


is awash in Seven-Elevens. This is a common product - guess who makes it....

The Lanna

architectural museum affiliated with the local university is helping to preserve the unique teak structures of Chiang Mai

Being a

a moated city, there are four ancient gates that remain. Thisis the Thapae Gate where a young couple are posing for their wedding album


is alive and well in Chiang Mai.

The City

Art and Cultural Museum was closed for renovation. This is the "three kings" statue out front.

The Lanna

Folklife museum was open though and its building had once served as a courthouse. We loved this Thai typewriter.


is an art in Chiang Mai. This is a relief-type mural in the Wat Chedi Luang library.


and tattoos are big business. Here you can get cleaner fish to nibble the dead skin and detritus off your toes. These German tourists said it tickled a bit.

A Spa

sign sighted from our lunch spot...your eye browse might need attention, perhaps?


Saturday and Sunday there are huge markets on closed-off streets in Chiang Mai. You can get everything, including hugging elephant salt and pepper shakers.

The Temple

etiquette signs were friendly.

And Its

local food tasty and cheap

One Sunday

we visited Wat Inthakin and the Golden Age of Lanna Museum. Outside we were accosted by delightful youngsters practicing their English.


polite young students were from Saraphi, a town nearby to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is

home to many schools for hill tribe children. Young boys who attend these schools become novice monks. The schooling gives them opportunities for a brighter future and the discipline necessary to be a novice helps to teach them to be fine citizens.

Wat Chiang Mun

is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai. These are statues of sacred elephants that line the stupa. Lanterns are an integral part of Lanna Buddhist culture.


of Wat Chiang Mun

The Stupa


were historically kept only by monks and were set on ponds to prevent critters from destroying books made from natural products.

An Example

of an ancient Thai Buddhist text in the library at Wat Chedi Luang.


around Chiang Mai was most efficiently done by bicycle. The going rate was about $2.50 per day for a sturdy machine. Our friendly neighbor rides his own bike five days per week at 4 am to the top of the mountain where Wat Doi Suthep is located. This is about 12 km straight uphill.

To See

the countryside, a motorbike is the way to go. This over-used Honda 125 could be had for about $8 per day. We took a day trip circuit around through the national park and mountains, going as far as the agricultural town of Samoeng where we stopped at a local joint for lunch.

Doi Suthep

national park was lovely but the woods were nearly brittle from drought.

The Winding Mountain Road

through the Mae Sae valley climbs to 1100 meters before reaching this viewpoint overlooking the Huai Than River valley and the strawberry fields of Samoeng.

In the Mae Sae

valley there are many elephant sactuaries. This beauty and her mahout were out for a stroll.

When Chiang Mai

was re-settled by King Kawilla after having been abandoned for over 20 years, the city pillar was moved to Wat Chedi Luang. It is believed that women pose a risk to such an important icon.

Wat Chedi Luang

or the Monastery of the Great Stupa was completed in about 936 (our calendar) under the reign of King Tilokarat - a devotee of the red-robed sect of monks - to contain the ashes of King Ku Na. The stupa's top 30 meters tumbled down in an earthquake (notice Philip near the stairs). At the time of completion, an emerald Buddha was installed. Later moved to Bangkok, a more recent emerald Buddha made from Canadian jade was carved and placed here.

The New

Emerald Buddha

Monk Chat

invitation at Wat Chedi Luang. It is here we met Charoen Pomsiri and his novice students

A School for

young novice monks of the hill tribes sits on the grounds of the wat. They enjoy visits from English speaking tourists for "monk chat". The brown colored robe of the boy on the right represents the highly praised "forest monk" sect.

East of the Moated

city but west of the River Ping is the market area of Chiang Mai. This scene is from the Waroros Market area.


everthing edible, including bugs, is for sale.

Even Worms

Its Food Court

had many interesting offerings including Spicy Frog.

Philip Smiled...

Who knew?

A Curry Puff

helped to curb his appetite until we found a stall serving noodles or curry.

Hill Tribe

fabrics and clothing are common here. Beautiful cottons and batik hemp were our favorites.

The Streets

were alive with commerce and culture.

One Morning

we hired a "rot daang" or red truck to bring us up to the mountaintop sacred temple of Doi Suthep.

To Reach

the temple, you must climb three hundred and ??? steps. We didn't count.

Along the

way are hill tribe children who will happily accept your baht for a photo.

At the Top

of the steps is the first aid station. We saw no one that day who needed help after the climb.

This is

is a place of pilgrimage for many Buddhists who walk clockwise three times around the stupa while chanting.

The Temple

and its surroundings were inspiring.

Chiang Mai

is also home to dozens of cooking schools. We chose Zabb-e-Lee.


was our instructor. He was animated and competent.

Pad Thai


We Came Away

with new skills, recipes and friends.

Terra Cotta

is used throughout this region of Thailand. This clay studio continues today to make intricate architectural pieces that are shipped throughout the world. There is a cafe in their garden...

That is

literally littered with treasures

Wat Prasingh

houses a nationally-revered "lion" Buddha

One of Its

temples has a whole wall painted with historic scenes including this beheading

And This

of a king and his queen amongst subjects.

Its Stupa

is blindingly gold in the bright sunlight.

Gold Leaf

is often adhered to statues by devotees. Some Buddhist shrines we read about require pilgrims to apply gold leaf with their heads.

Wat Pan Tao

is a gorgeous old teak structure set in a sandy garden.

Wat Phakao

sits on a quiet side street and has an inviting garden filled with impish statues and a gaily-lit temple

As Our Time

in Chiang Mai came to and end, we went back for a third time to visit the novice monks and their English teacher (and mentor) Charoen Pomsiri. They were such nice young men! They sent us away with two small amulets which we will treasure almost as much as our good memories.

Twenty Six

hours after leaving our guesthouse in Chiang Mai, we spotted Sokehs Ridge and were happy to be home.