up north

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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The first motorbike trip...many more are to follow
A 12 hour bus ride north of Bangkok is the far more relaxed old and new city of Chiang Mai. The "old" city is a small square surrounded by a moat and remnant of the old brick wall that once stood as a barrier to block Burmese invaders. Within the moat, Chiang Mai is a maze of small quiet roads containing guesthouses, western-friendly restaurants, coffee shops, temples, and a plethora of shops offering Thai massages.
Boasting almost as many temples as Bangkok (in a much smaller square footage), I took a sticky walk through the top 3.
Wat (temple) Phra Singh was established in 1345 when King Saen Muang Ma was reigning the Lanna Thai Kingdom.
modeling the lovely helmet...it's a fashion statement
Pra Buddhasihing, one of the most renown Buddha images was taken to Chiang Mai to be presented to the King. the chariot broke down at this spot so the Buddha image was installed at this temple.
Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple within the city walls, erected in 1296. The temple is home to two famous Buddha images: crystal buddha and marble Buddha. Crustal Buddha was made over 1800 years ago and is believed to have the power to bring seasonal rains. The marble Buddha was made in India over 2000 years ago. Behind the main temple is the Sacred Elephant Encircled Stupa (stupa: a monument containing Buddha images). It was erected where the old sleeping quarters were originally placed during the building of new Chiang Mai. Enshrined is a hair relic of the buddha within the chedi (interchangeable term for stupa).
the east main gate, separating old chiang mai from the main city

One of the north's most sacred temples, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, is a 20 minute moto ride up a hilltop. The sight was chosen by a Buddha relic that was mounted ontop a white elephant. The elephant dropped dead of exhaustion and fatigue on Doi Suthep, marking it as the relics new resting place. The walk from the parking lot is a heafty 306 steps. The temple offers great views down on Chiang Mai city and a host of Buddha images. In one of the rooms you can, I'm assuming, be blessed/given luck, by one of the monks. You walk in and kneel down as he chants something and sprinkles water over the group. Then, forming single sex lines, you go up to another monk who chants something again and ties a white string around your wrist.

As with all Thai towns, Chiang mai offers up many a market.
As always they're jammed with stalls selling food (yummy fruit shakes, greasy noodles, BBQ meat/fish, and if I'm lucky...fried bananas!), cotton clothing (colorful shirts, skirts, and pants), scarves, little Buddhas, useless nicnacks, photographs, and of course massages. Our guesthouse was fantastic and the owners sooo nice. We had a fantastic BBQ and yummy corn on the cob...followed by a LONG night out...and finished with french fries!

Ah...but then there was Pai...
My favorite place in Thailand!
Taking a short break from Chiang Mai, I left my newly acquired travel buddy (from Bangkok), and headed 3 hours northwest to a quaint littly town nestled between the mountains. VW minivans are still driven around town, hippie style laidback vibes are omnipresent, and the small roads offer up peaceful motorbiking and beautiful scenery.
For 100baht ($3.50), I got myself an (automatic) bike and hit the roads after my usual fruitshake breakfast. Whenever I passed an interesting sign (canyon, waterfall, land crack, elephants, ancient town) I just pulled off the road and went exploring.
If I were to buy an "I (Heart)" shirt, it would have said "I (heart) Pai." It felt more like an authentic Thai town, especially on the drive up. Granted, the tourist trail is alive and well here, but the meager size of the town offers the sense of a close-knit community and just across the shaky bamboo bridge are wooden huts on stilts as guesthouses.

It's been 3 weeks in Thailand, and what a fantastic country. It's so easy to travel around, everyone is ridiculously friendly and eager to help and they love to chat. After New Zealand, I'd say Thailand is my second favorite country to visit... although the list isn't finished yet... I hit my next (and last new) country on Thursday: Cambodia!
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The first motorbike trip...many mo…
The first motorbike trip...many m…
modeling the lovely helmet...its …
modeling the lovely helmet...it's…
the east main gate, separating old…
the east main gate, separating ol…
the chiang mai night bazaar
the chiang mai night bazaar
the mote that encircles the city
the mote that encircles the city
rest stop on the way to Pai
rest stop on the way to Pai
Pai!!
Pai!!
sunset over the Pai river, the wal…
sunset over the Pai river, the wa…
could the sky be any bluer?
could the sky be any bluer?
the bamboo bridge you have to cros…
the bamboo bridge you have to cro…
MY bike!!! and driving on the left…
MY bike!!! and driving on the lef…
the Pai Canyon
the Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon
only in Thailand is a Land Crack a…
only in Thailand is a Land Crack …
one of the many smaller roads arou…
one of the many smaller roads aro…
where I stopped for a coffee on th…
where I stopped for a coffee on t…
the WWII memorial bridge
the WWII memorial bridge
its Thailand...theres ALWAYS str…
it's Thailand...there's ALWAYS st…
elephants!!!
elephants!!!
a waterfall on the way up to Doi S…
a waterfall on the way up to Doi …
stopping for a photo op with a roa…
stopping for a photo op with a ro…
the view back to Chiang Mai from D…
the view back to Chiang Mai from …
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes