First temple visit. Thailand is a Buddist country although so far I have also seen Christian and Seventh Day Adventist churches. There are over 200 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai so for starters, Amy took me to her favourite which is also one of the smallest. Even so, it was quite amazing with the amount of decorative statues of Buddha, dragons, elephants (& various others who I hope to learn) - masses of gold, silver, every other colour, all twinkling and flashing. All the pillars, doors, ceilings, all intricately designed with scrolling patterns - and that was just the temple. There are other smaller buildings and shrines and trees with orange & yellow ribbons wrapped around the trunks & woven around the branches.
Whilst in the temple, a monk beckoned us over. We knelt in front of him and he gave us both a sort of wrist bracelet made of white thread with a small golden bead which he put on us whilst chanting a prayer or blessing. We have to keep them on till after Songkran in mid April. Songkran is celebration of Thai New Year, lasts for three days and everyone throws water at everyone else from buckets, water pistols, hoses - any kind of water carrier! Amy tells me that you walk around completely drenched all day long.
There are some rules to obey when visiting a temple: you have to be dressed appropriately with legs covered to past knees, no bare shoulders or cleavage on display; shoes off and don't point your feet at Buddha.
|Rules for visiting a temple (click to see a larger image so you can read it)|
After the temple visit we had to go to the Far Eastern University for Amy to enrol on a Thai Culture 4 day course. All foreign teachers have to do this once within 2 years of teacher employment to retain their work permit & the course is usually only in Bangkok so Amy didn't want to miss the opportunity of attending in Chiang Mai.
We then mozied around a huge modern shopping centre with all the usual worldwide corporate shops - mainly cos air con blasting out and early pm is obviously hottest part of the day!
Then a funny thing happened on my way to Amy's that evening! It seems to me that Thailand is a place of smiles, sunshine, rice, temples and ..... mopeds. There must be a trillion, zillion, million just in Chiang Mai and one stopped right by me and a Thai lady voice said "you want ride?" No way" I thought, having visions of being sold for 10 bags of rice. "No thank you. I am going to my daughter's house" was my polite response. "I know" she said. WOW I am famous (or should that be ' infamous'?) - must be the instigator of the new fashion in headwear - the bright red flannel. Then it all became clear. "I live next door to daughter and I see you." Well, how could I appear churlish? "I go verrry slow" she said - was my terror so obvious? So I clumsily climbed on board (never ever rode on a motorised two wheeler before) and got off at my destination (about 3 mins later) feeling like Biker Girl Extraordinaire!!!
Friday, March 8
Visited a bigger temple within Chiang Mai old city. Incidentally, around the old city is a canal which they call 'the moat'. No narrowboats on it, and come to that, no other boats either! Difficult to find words to describe the temple... so some photos below.
Saturday 9 March
In the evening we all went to a free outdoor international music concert at The Three Kings Square. The best parts were a Japanese couple called Yurai and a truly international drumming band called Drums United.
Sunday 10 March
Mothers Day! Best one ever as I'm here spending the day with Amy which hasn't happened for at least 4 years. They gave me a beautiful pink flower arrangement of lillies, carnations, roses and orchids - yes, real orchids! They're stunning here. We spent the day at the temple atop Doi Suthep - a very high mountain! Again, I was overwhelmed by the temple sights.
At the entrance to the temple, you have a choice. Either turn right and take the cable car or left for the 307 steps up to the temple. Guess which way we went! And to prove it, here I am taking my morning constitutional!
At intervals going up little hill tribe children are ready to have their photograph taken with you and then give you the internationally known gesture for 'money money!'
Fortunately, Amy's been here before so all the photos I have of hill tribe kids were surreptitiously taken by Amy taking photos of "me" or "the view"! I must admit, Amy took some super photos as the children were unposed. Here's a few more. Her favourite is last.
This fabulous day was rounded off nicely with... no rice! We all went to a fancy Italian restaurant and had pizza.
Monday 11, Tuesday 12, Wednesday 13
Quiet days spent sitting on my balcony or in the hotel garden courtyards sewing and reading with evening meals eaten with Amy and Andy.
Yes - it is still HOT and getting HOTTER every day. Cannot imagine what April (the hottest month of the year) is going to be like.
For us, there are three ways to get about. Walking (which Thais don't do much), red cars and tuk tuks. Just for Ethan, here is a photo of one and to clarify, they don't have a set route, you just tell them where you want to go, they say yes or no, you jump in the the back and jump out when you get there - picking other people on the way if they're going in a similar direction! Most journeys are 20 baht (about 40p), more if you want to go a longer way. Tuk tuks seat three people "sensibly". They are a bit more expensive than red cars because they can't pick up any more people, so take you straight to your destination. They go FAST, nipping in and out other vehicles and you feel like you're falling out all the time as you go round a bend on two of the three wheels.