The next day, we took a long windy steep scooter ride up the mountain to Wat Doi Suthep, one of the North’s most sacred temples that sits majestically atop Doi Suthep’s summit. Tourists and thai pilgrims flock here to make merit to the buddhist relic enshrined in the picturesque golden chedi. We took advantage of this visit to get “blessed” by one of the monks. We figured that might be needed with our scootering around! We then strolled the mini tourist market around the temple and got ourselves some lunch. We got back into town mid-afternoon and headed back to our nice air-conditioned apartment for a while.
Above: on the way to Doi Suthep
Below: View of Chiang Mai
Above: Cute hill-tribe girl
Above: Crowd including James getting blessed
Above: cute kitty in the middle of scarves for sale at the market
Above and below: bugs for sale?
We also happened to be in Chiang Mai during the flower festival weekend. During those days, the city adorns itself with flowers and you can watch cultural performances as well as the flower-bedecked floats go around the city. So that evening, we enjoyed the festival’s opening ceremony that featured a variety of dances and the parade of floats, bands, and dignitaries the next day.
We ate breakfast at a place called Angel’s Secrets (good eats) the next morning and then scootered out to a place called Thai Silk Village. Here they showed the entire process from the raising of the silk worms to the making of the final silk garment.
Above: on the way to the silk village, scooter next to us loaded!!
Above and below: cocoon is made of silkworm saliva. It takes 3 to 5 days to build a cocoon. The silkworm lives inside the cocoon 7 to days before coming out to be a moth. One cocoon gives about 500 to 800 metres of silk.
For lunch, we finally sampled the typical northern Thai dish called Khao Soi, which was tasty but spicy (basically a curry noodle) and a nice break from pad thai. Up until this point in Thailand, we had done a lot of talking about getting a massage as they are good and dirt cheap, but hadn’t followed through (we were usually too exhausted or too busy). We had 1.5 hours before we had to return our scooter, so we hurried out to the women’s prison, known not only for a good massage, but also helps the women rehabilitate. They were unfortunately completely booked for the day, so we headed towards a temple we had seen a day earlier that was offering cheap massages. We found a parking spot right in front of a massage parlour we had read about that rated very well, and one that we had tried to find before but couldn’t. They were able to fit us in and we both enjoyed a vigorous oil massage. After returning our scooter, we walked quite a ways to get to the Saturday Walking Market. This market has a more local feel with mainly food carts and locally made products. It was packed with tourists and locals alike with everyone eating while strolling all the booths. Around 11 pm, tired, we ended up hailing a tuk tuk to get back home.
We really enjoyed Chiang Mai and wished we had given more time to visit it than the allotted 5 days. One excursion we decided against doing was the elephant trek, bathing, etc. After seeing so many in Africa, where they roam free, and seeing them in Nepal, where they’re used to generate money from tourists and not treated well, we decided the African memory was best. We may change our mind later but at least for now that’s what we decided .
We hope to get back to Chiang Mai, possibly later in our SE Asia tour.