Saturday, March 31, 2018

Chiang Mai Saturday March 31st

This morning I awoke at 5 am. Todd and I decided that we were going to explore Chiang Mai before our day-long tour of Doi Inthanon National Park.

The Whitney's met us in the lobby, and we decided to visit Wat Chedi Luang. It is a chedi built in 1441 in the Lanna style. The building used to be the tallest structure in Chiang Mai until it was partly destroyed by an earthquake or cannon fire a few centuries back.
We were one of the first tourist on the compound. We had the place all to ourselves. When we arrived a group of young Buddhist monks were sitting for a group picture outside the temple.

On the south side of Wat Chedi Luang were displays of each of the Chinese animal mascots by year. Three of us were born in the year of the Monkey. Todd was born in the year of the Dragon (or large snake, as the sign labeled it).

We visited the inside of one of the temples. They had a large Buddha in the center with large pictures of the royal family next to it.

Elaborate columns covered in gold stencils flanked both sides of the building. The room was illuminated by several crystal chandeliers hanging along the center of the room. On the sides, rows and rows of banners hung from the ceiling. It was a simple, yet opulent space.

After leaving the temple we returned to our hotel, where we had a great breakfast and got picked up for our day trip to Doi Inthanon National Park.

Doing the one hour trip to the park, our guide explained to us the history of Chiang Mai or ‘New City’. Chiang Mai is near the border to Myanmar and Laos. Over the centuries these countries have fought a lot of wars. There has also been several migrations of tribes from China and other neighboring regions who have settled in northern Thailand.

The are are several hill tribes in forests around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Our first stop was the entry checkpoint to the park. On the side were local vendors selling their fruit and flowers.

I saw one stall where they were selling lychee, something I had eaten in Hawaii but not available in Utah. They are not in season until June, but somehow this vendor had some for sale. I had to purchase some.

We traveled up the mountain to the twin stupas (dome-shaped structures) dedicated to the king and queen's 60th birthday's in 1989 and 1992.  The Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon means 'a magnificent stupa containing Buddha relics’.

The king’s stupa is 60 meters in height, whereas the queen’s is 55 meter signifying that the queen is 5 years younger than the king.

The grounds around the stupa were gorgeous. They had flowers of all colors in full bloom. The rodadendum bush, which only blooms once a year was also flowering.

After our visit we rode further up the mountain to view the heights spot in Thailand. There is a shrine marking the spot. Superstition says that if you can place a coin standing up on the dome shaped altitude marker, your prayer will come true. One of the people in our tour group was able to do it. I hope she made a big wish!

Our next stop was the Angkha nature trail a rainforest boardwalk  with mossy trees and a lot of birds singing. It is also the source of water for all rivers in Thailand.

Our last stop before lunch was the Sirithan Waterfall. The royal family visited the falls in Thai year 2545. Their calendar begins 500 year before ours with the death of Buddha. This is the year 2561 according to the Thai calendar.  

The waterfall was beautiful but there were a ton of mosquitoes at the viewpoint, so we didn't spend a lot of time there.

Our lunch spot was right outside Wachirathan Waterfall. The food was authentic thai, but ‘mo pet’ less spicy.

Our last stop was a village of Karan white people. They fled Myanmar due to war and have assimilated into Thailand culture learning their language, yet maintaining their culture.

The tribe of 300 people works primarily growing coffee and manufacturing textiles. During the rainy season they also grow rice.

Women spend approximately a week creating a scarf from 100% cotton yarn in a variety of colors. They only charge 250 BTH (approx $8) for all of their work and materials.

The village received electricity eight years ago, and because of it they now have television, cell phones, lights, fans and a huge satellite dish.

Their homes are built on stilts. The raised floors protect the home owners from floods, snakes and other wild animals.

It was humbling to see the condition these people live in, yet I know how that there are many people who are in refugee camps away from home because of war.