We just returned from Chiang Mai and we loved it! There doesn’t seem to be a part of Thailand we don’t love–the people could not be nicer and the food could not be tastier. It definitely felt like a more spiritual place than other parts of this warm and welcoming country. Our highlight was the day we borrowed bikes from our hotel and peddled all over the small city popping in and out of wats.
In one wat, a man was dutifully depositing one coin into each of the displayed 104 bowls–one for each monk in residence and also apparently a meaningful number in Buddhism. One interesting thing to note: Buddhist monks are not monks for a lifetime. It’s very common for boys to serve as monks for just a few years and then leave… some however like the man in the above photo stay for a lifetime. He stayed so still for so long I really thought he was a wax sculpture. Everyone kept going up to take their photo with him and even when a flash bulb went off, he didn’t even blink! Talk about a deep meditation!
Even wats need repair. The construction worker gave me the typical Asian hello: “bunny ears.” Did you know that bamboo is stronger and lighter than steel?
I became OBSESSED with elephants in Chiang Mai… they are artistically depicted everywhere. (More elephant love in my next Chiang Mai post!)
Built in the 14th century, Wat Jedi Luang, with the elephants, was surrounded by a large courtyard and several other mini-wats. It was my favorite!
We stayed at the Chedi which was formerly the British consulate. The rooms were in the exterior seventies-style building which surrounded the traditional home where the ambassador lived. There were beautiful ponds around the house that they lit with floating candles at dusk. The hotel was just a few minutes outside the old city, right on the river.
The food at the restaurant at the hotel was delicious! I loved the watermelon, feta, and pistachio salad (an easy combination to remember to toss together). The banana flower salad was also amazing.
But to beat the hotel prices and try some truly local cuisine, we ended up at Huen Phen, twice! Once for lunch and again for dinner. The place is very eclectically decorated and has loads of charm.
The papaya salad was delicious and we loved the Northern-style chili curried noodles. 7 incredible dishes, including a large appetizer platter, + 4 beers = $18USD. Not bad. After dinner, we took a tuk-tuk (my new favorite mode of transport) to the Night Market.
There were a lot of crazy things at the night market, including fish pedicures!
Then we wandered the streets back to our hotel as all the bars were closed for the election. Can you imagine the outrage in the States if you weren’t allowed to serve or sell alcohol the day before and the day of an election? People would probably turn-out in record numbers just to vote that down the next time around!