Chiang Mai — The Rose Of The North Part II
Our sightseeing in Chiang Mai continued with a visit to a unique temple. The Buddhist temples are very important to the Thai people, 90 percent whom practice Buddhism. A real gem and the grandest of the temples, high in the hills is Wat Ton Kwen, a spectacular golden compound that has been maintained in its original Lanna layout for hundreds of years.
We took the cable car up to the complex that is surrounded with bells. I rang every one!
For good luck I was told to walk three times around the massive gold leaf-encrusted 600-year-old temple. Then I went into a room where a monk was sitting on a platform saying prayers with a small group seated on the floor. When I sat down, I was startled to hear him ask me in perfect English where I was from and then added, “Welcome to our temple.” While praying, he sprayed each of us with water from a small bristle brush.
The historic and colorful city of Chiang Mai has become a bustling, thriving place - a must see city if you’re going to Thailand. It boasts three universities and a plethora of fashion, shopping and culture. But mostly I enjoyed the warm, gentle and kind people.
Returning To Bangkok — A City By The River
Our hotel, the Purple Orchid Sheraton, sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.
So Stu signed us up for a longboat ride up the river to see the Royal Barges and the Wat Arun Temple complex.
On the way to these awesome sites, we were able to see the handsome wooden homes of the people who live along the river and its multiple klongs (canals).
The longboat is just that, a narrow two-seater bench with a capacity of about 14 people. The motor has a long shaft out of the back attached to a propeller.
There are so many ferry boats traversing the narrow river, I was amazed that there were no crashes. They each came within inches of each other, but respected each one’s space, avoiding contact. The docks were so crowded, in one case, as we arrived at the dock there was the hotel’s boat anchored, so our boat attached itself and we walked through the other boat onto the deck.
The Royal Barge Museum is a wonderful way to see a few of the king’s fleet that comes out for special occasions. Many were destroyed during World War II, but have been rebuilt and painstakingly restored.
We got back on our boat and continued up the river to see Wat Arun (the beautiful ornate Temple of Dawn). It is beautifully decorated with porcelain cups and saucers from China embedded in cement. In the other temples, mirrored glass fills the crevices of the intricate carvings.
We climbed the steep narrow steps to the top and it was worth the effort. The view of each of the unique buildings took my breath away. Of course, to go down, I was scared to death.
Part two to come!