Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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We dithered and dathered this morning, desperate for coffee after several days without, and unable to decide what we wanted to do.
We thought we might go see the elephants and a few other sights, but wanted to contact a driver whom we had spoken to several days earlier.
We grab a very gooood coffee at the Weewaa coffee shop on our way. A lot quicker service today than last visit - but we have girls making coffee today, not the boys from previously. On arrival at his depot, we discover he has apparently already been hired or gone out for the day, so we spend some time looking at tourist information in the waiting area, as to what other options we have. We gather some brochures and head back to the guest house. Leane makes contact with Laurie, the owner, who asks us to come back in half an hour for a chat. We wander to the end of our street and get some traditional breakfast at a little cafe. We arrive back and chat with Laurie, who gives us some compendiums of ideas to look through, and has some good suggestions and advice.

By afternoon, we decide, as the weather has cleared somewhat, to visit the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep - The Temple on the Mountain - Chang Mai's most visible and important landmark, and overlooks the city from its forested backdrop. It is 15 kms from town and 3,520 feet above sea level. We also wanted to visit the local Jade workshop and showroom, which happens to be on the way. Laurie's advice is to chose a local taxi driver with a NEW red car. Older ones are too smokey from the diesel fumes, as passengers sit in the semi-open rear. We find ourselves a very new car and driver and are on our way. He is happy to take us for 400baht or about $14.00AUD, for as long as we need him.

We visit the Jade Showroom first, and are amazed that jade comes in more colors than green - lavender, blue, red, amber, white and blue. We're even more amazed at the price of it....and leave empty handed.

The Wat or temple can be approached by a steep naga staircase of some 290 steps or via a railcar or lift. As our time is limited we chose the railcar - Leanne has to be back for a dress fitting at 6pm. We arrive to be entertained by some local school children who are playing traditional musical instruments and performing traditional dancing. Our driver, Kosin,  is also our guide and a worthy one he is! He  liked practising his English with us and if we didn't understand him, he would attempt to spell the word and was very accurate. He also liked 70's country music and it was hard not to laugh as he sang along to Rhinestone Cowboy! He was most informative as a guide at the temple and polite and protective hussling us away from the beggars and vendors who pounce on Farangs like us. He takes us around the temple, explaining it's history and significance as we went. As we are leaving and waiting for Kosin to bring the car, we grabbed a snack for our journey back to Chang Mai - some loose sweetcorn in a cup. How sweet it is! Much sweeter than the corn we get at home, and a lovely snack, sufficient to keep us going until dinner time.
We head back, with Kiara going to sleep on the seat.
As our driver takes us back to the tailor's , he asks our plans for the next few days. As we' re already booked for the Flight of the Gibbons for Sunday, we decide to see the elephants and a few other sights on Monday. With him as our driver/guide, we're able to tailor our trip to suit ourselves, rather than taking any planned other tours that would have us see things we're not really interested in. He is so excited at the prospect of being our driver/guide that he says he'll bring his wife and granddaughter for the outing and they will provide lunch for us, with his wife doing the cooking. Sounds like a fun day with the locals, to us. Home via the tailors for Leanne'sfitting of her dress, while Kisin waited outside to take us home.
Kusin drops us back to our guesthouse, we commit to Monday and book him, then we prepare to go out for dinner with some friends of Leanne's - Brendan, a golfing mate of her husband's who now lives in Chang Mai with his Thai girlfriend, Ice.
We have dinner at a very upmarket restaurant on the Mae Ping river, called The Good View Restaurant. It is very busy, noisy and we are situated near the band and can't hear each other speak to have a conversation. After several moves to quieter tables we're eventually placed overlooking the river, and can talk. Great food, was good to see very similar food to the stalls but presented restaurant style and lots of beer for Leanne and Brendan.
Lovely!
We arrive home via the Flower markets that we could see on the other side of the river, much too late, especially as we need to rise early in the morning to catch our courtesy bus to the Flight of the Gibbons.

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Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes