As I mentioned in my last post we stayed with the GF’s brother’s family in Chiang Rai province for a few days, and did a bit of sightseeing while there. For Thais, visiting a distant province invariably means visiting some of the more famous or sacred wats of the district to make merit so I was taken along on a grand tour of some of Northern Thailand’s temples….again.
First up was Wat Huai Pla Kung Temple, a Chinese pagoda style temple of nine levels. There is also a giant Buddha and a more common Thai-style temple under construction in the grounds.
The Buddha looks like it will have an observation lookout in it’s head but for now you have to climb the stairs of the pagoda to enjoy the view over the surrounding rice paddies.
Then it was on to Wat Rong Khun, or the “White Temple”. This was badly damaged in an earthquake not so long ago but has been quickly repaired. This is not a conventional temple, but more of an artistic extravaganza conceived by a well known Thai artist.
The interior walls are decorated with fantastical murals of super heroes and villains, 9/11 and GW Bush and Bin Laden riding a missile together ! Unfortunately photography is prohibited inside, probably because they want you to buy a souvenir from their shop !
The toilets here would have to be the most lavishly decorated in the country !
After a day of meritorious sightseeing and merit-making, a night of gluttony and drinking was to follow, a pattern followed most days !
On another day the Gf’s brother drove us all the way to Chiang Mai to visit yet another wat, Wat Phra That Doi Kham. Like the more famous Wat Doi Suthep this is just outside Chiang Mai, on a hillside looking out over the town. This place does not get the hordes of tourists though.
And then just for a change, and to keep the kids happy, we traipsed off to Chiang Mai Zoo. This is not exactly the best of zoos, and is looking a bit rundown nowadays. It seems that the monorail around the zoo stopped working a long time ago, with trees growing around the track. Luckily I got in at the Thai price after showing my local drivers license, it would not be worth the inflated price they normally charge foreigners. After paying the general admission there are extra charges for the seal show, the aquarium, etc, IMHO it’s really not worth the effort or cost to visit.
After several visits to the wats, many plates of sticky rice, and countless bottles of Leo beer, it was time to return to Bangkok. We left Chiang Rai in fairly good weather but flew into Bangkok in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. The rain was so heavy they would not open the plane doors ! The flight down took about an hour, and then we sat in the plane for nearly as long before we could get off !