Tuesday September 29, 2015 (Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand)
Robin has arrived! And it didn’t take us long to get the party started. She brought a bunch of goodies that Sandra has been eagerly awaiting. Examples? How does 1kg of peanut butter strike your fancy? Because it sure got Sandra excited. Running magazines? Granola bars? All of the above.
After such kindness from Robin, we only gave her one full day to relax in Bangkok before we jetted off to Chiang Mai. We did manage to check out the Mini Maker Faire in Bangkok before departure, and it was super cool to see a bunch of local startups working on 3D printing, robotics, and all sorts of other amazing projects. I’m always thrilled to see young kids getting involved, and they were attending in droves! I had a chance to ride a bicycle with the chain hooked up to a shaved ice maker. And I got to eat the results of my hard pedalling work! Wee!
Now onto Chiang Mai. It’s a city steeped in history, and it’s Thailand’s second-largest city. You wouldn’t really know by walking around though – it has a much different feel to it than the sprawling metropolis of Bangkok! Chiang Mai feels a lot like a small town. But bigger. What a useless description… sorry.
Anyhoo, there are heaps of temples to be seen around the area. Robin was definitely in the mood for some templing as this was her first exposure! Sandra and I were slightly less enthused given the mountains of temples we’ve already been to. But it really ain’t so bad checking out these beautiful places because each one has quirks of its own!
We rented some bicycles and checked out a couple of the easily-accessible temples within the old city walls. Here’s the list:
- Wat Chedi Luang
- Wat Phra Singh
- Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang
- Wat Chiang Man
After a hard day of cycling we returned to our non-air-conditioned room. This is my excuse for why the blog update is a bit late. Nobody wants to heat up the computer on their lap with intense photo editing and uploading in a room that’s over 30° Celcius. We could barely sleep in the room, let alone write incredible entries like these! So gimme a break, will ya?
We also managed to squeeze in an early morning run. It’s magical running through the streets of the old city to the sounds of monks chanting at five in the morning. The rats scurrying between garbage bags lining the sidewalks are slightly less enchanting, but I suppose they add a certain flavour of their own to the experience.
One pleasant opportunity we had was to speak with a monk at Wat Chedi Luang. On our way out of the temple, we were invited over to a table to sit down with a monk and ask him any questions we liked. It gives them an opportunity to practice English and lets us ask all sorts of bizarre questions. How often do you shave your hair? Some temples are once every half moon, some once every full moon. Can you stop being a monk whenever you want? Yes. What are the rules governing monks? There are many. It was really fascinating to have a chance to sit down and chat with these guys. They’re quite down to earth and chatty! I must admit: I’m pretty intimidated by them. They’re just too darn… good! I think I get worried that I’ll defile them just by looking into their eyes. But I guess this little chat helped me understand their lifestyle a bit more, and that’s a good thing! But when it came time for photos, that doesn’t mean I touched the guy. As far as I’m concerned, that one’s off the table!
Initially we had our eye on Pai (hey, nice rhyme Ian!) as a hiking destination to visit from Chiang Mai, but we’ve re-jigged our plans a bit to keep us closer to the area to make sure we explore Chiang Mai as much as it deserves. Tomorrow is a visit to the Elephant Nature Park. Pachyderm parties await!