Chiang Mai environs: nothing was as we expected.
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 71 of 251 › view all entries
May 19th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
First we drove up the long winding road to to Doi Suthep National Park, just southwest of the city. Based on Fodor’s guidebook, I thought the trip would involve some hiking up a mountain and through the forest to see the temple located there, called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Because it’s a big holiday today the temple was very crowded. Not with tourists, but with local Thai people there to visit and pray. There were many ornate buildings in the temple area, and we didn’t really know what we were looking at most of the time, so we just followed the flow around us. The area around the temple was really built up with food and souvenir vendors, so it was an interesting blend of tourism, religion, and commerce. It frankly felt odd to be sightseeing at such an active place of worship. I tried not to be too obnoxious with my camera, taking photos only when I saw others doing so.
Our next stop was Phuping Palace, the summer residence of the royal family.
Our then driver brought us to a local joint -- it was like a Thai diner -- for lunch. Everything on the menu was right around 30 baht (about $1)! And it was very good, too.
Next on the list was Sankamphaeng Hot Springs. I was thinking this would be similar to the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik. That’s a tall order…and it was nothing like that. The grounds were very pretty, with flowers and ornamental bushes everywhere. There were two natural geysers, and you could buy eggs to boil in the hot water collected in a big cistern off to the side. There was a concrete “river” built to direct the water from the hot springs, and people were soaking their feet. It all sounds nice, but it seemed grubby and unappealing to us, so we passed on the foot soak.
For dinner we went to Whole Earth, listed in Fodor’s. It is in a beautiful location, and has a good selection of vegetarian dishes on the menu, so I was very happy there.
We were both very tired, and I am sooo sleepy as I write this. My back hurts like the devil from my crazy Thai massage yesterday, and sitting exacerbates the pain. The melancholy song on my iTunes -- I Think it’s Going to Rain by Madeleine Peyoux -- isn’t helping matters one bit! So I will sign off now, hopefully to sign in again tomorrow with a better attitude… and a happier back! Cheers.
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