Everywhere you look in Chiang Mai you will find temples. Rising majestically into the sky, sitting atop a small mountain, behind the corner store, just outside of your guesthouse. For those of us who follow the Buddhist traditions, this is indeed a paradise to be explored and experienced. And don’t forget to receive blessings from the monks you see in the temples. They are usually available to give a blessing, most often followed by the tying of a white string on your wrist. Just a note for the women, you may want to just hold your hand out to receive the blessing string, as some monks may not be comfortable to tie one on your wrist.
One of the most popular temples (or Wat) is at Doi Suthep: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phra_That_Doi_Suthep. You reach this Wat by walking up approx. 300 very steep steps – quite the workout, but great exercise for me personally to prepare for the big walk up to the Tigers Nest Monastery in Bhutan (around 700 steps at high altitude)! Photo credit: M.Charbonneau
And the experience of the temple at the top is well worth the effort!
At the bottom of the steps on the way up and down, you see these adorable Hmong girls in traditional dress. They’ll pose for pictures with you, but the next words they say are “money” 🙂 C’est la vie, non … but I think she liked her new teddy bear!There is a wonderful market about mid-way up the steps to the Wat where you can buy all kinds of traditional carvings, metal work, mala beads and all things unique. Much less expensive to bargain for deals in this market than in the one down at the bottom of the street for those of you who love to shop 🙂
The rest of the day was spent wandering through the many diverse temples and shops around Chiang Mai. In these temples, you will encounter Buddha statues from all backgrounds – Siam, Indonesian, Ganesha, big fat “happy” Buddhas, etc. Spectacular architecture wherever you look – you could spend hours just admiring the many paintings and artisan-ship within each temple. My favourite observation was that most of the monks all use cell phones … quite an amusing dichotomy!I hope you enjoy this last walk through Chiang Mai with me … next stop, Luang Prabang, Laos – Namaste–