09 Feb - 22 Feb 2010 Chiang Mai

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Ratchapakhinal Road 178
Safe House Court Guest House +6653418955
Spacious twin room with excellent wifi for THB 300.- or US$ 9.- per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Safe House Court in Chiang Mai, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Wat-hopping and ticking off Chiang Mai’s superb inner-city Buddhist monastery-temples aka wats, decorated with intricate woodcarvings, protective naga serpent staircases, gilded umbrellas, guardian figures from the tales of the Ramayana and hemispherical stupas (cone-shaped monuments which pay tribute to the enduring stability of Buddhism): (i) Wat Phra Singh which houses the city’s most revered Buddha image, the Phra Singh aka the Lion Buddha, (ii) Wat Chedi Luang with its very large and venerable 1441 CE Lanna-style stupa, (iii) Wat U Mong Klang Wiang with a golden Buddha statue that shows nine different facial expressions under different day-light angles, (iv) Wat Duang Dee with its mysterious scripture repository (designed to keep and protect the delicate mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore), (v) Wat Lam Chang with its plethora of elephant statues, (vi) Wat Chiang Man, the oldest wat in Chiang Mai, and (vii) Wat U Sai Kham where we made a wish for our awesome Germanseffricanchinesecanadian grandsons Raoni and Tien by grandma Konni rubbing her hands over the pot-bellied Buddha's sizeable paunch.

However gnawing a deficiency, satiety is worse... We are meant to be hungry.” 

Exploring Chiang Mai’s rather low-key Chinatown west of Mae Nam Ping aka Ping River (there is hardly an urban northern Thai without one civilised grandparent or two; it’s a safe guess that about one third of the population of Thailand is in fact of ethnic Chinese origin), visiting (i) colourful and timeless Sino-Thai markets like (a) Talat Wararot, the oldest and most famous market in Chiang Mai, and (b) Ton Lamyai, the beautiful riverside flower market with flowers of all descriptions from roses to chrysanthemums, lilies to birds of paradise, all ready to reach their absolute prime, (ii) old and atmospheric Buddhist/Taoist temples, and (iii) traditional and modern Chinese shophouses, and celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year of the Tiger (Thai: Trut Chii) in a festive atmosphere loaded with the sound of gongs, cymbals and drums played throughout the streets and the noise of zillions of fire crackers: (i) spectacular lion-dance performances which symbolise the ceremony to chase off bad luck and usher in prosperity, good luck and fortune, (ii) acrobatic dragon-dance performances which symbolise power, dignity, fertility, wisdom and auspiciousness, and (iii) rather boring motivational speeches from some permanently grinning big shots aka tai-pan - Shin Je Huat Chye!

Enjoying together with our Bavarian friend Martina the small pleasures of life in Chiang Mai, Thailand's second biggest city: (i) feasting on delicious (northern) Thai food such as (a) the pescetarian and vegetarian versions of phàt thai (stir-fried thin rice noodles with dried or fresh shrimps, bean sprouts, fried tofu, egg and seasoning), (b) tofu-based khâo sawy (yellow egg noodles in a curried broth with coconut milk) and (c) never ending variations of Thai salads aka yam, tam and lap (e.g. hot and tangy salads containing a blast of lime, chilli, fresh herbs and a choice of seafood, green papaya and all the rest of it), best prepared in our fave restaurant, the stylish and clean Big Food Restaurant right opposite the main entrance to Wat Chedi Luang, (ii) relaxing our bodies and souls with elaborate Thai massage techniques (e.g. full-body massage for THB 140.- per hour; foot reflexology for THB 120.- per hour; Martina's ayurvedic-related sesame-oil fake-Indian full-body massage for free), (iii) offering my throat (Matt only) to one of the masked and razor-wielding barbers of Siam and having a close shave, (iv) practising daily (Konni only) the tantalising movements of Tai Chi and Qigong for women at Wat Loi Khraw, and (v) flushing it all down with delicious and potent ginseng wine from our no-name drug dealer at an undisclosed location.

Wat-touring the famous Buddhist temples north and west of Chiang Mai: (i) Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with its superb views over the city, (ii) Wat Suan Dok where we patiently avail ourselves in the opportunity to improve our command of English with the help of young and eager Buddhist monks from Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand, and (iii) the tranquil, 700-year old Wat U Mong with its brick-lined tunnels and eerie underground temples.

Taking a túk-túk taxi for THB 40.- or US$ 1.20 from our “safe house” to Chiang Mai’s Chang Pheuak Bus Terminal and thereafter a regional bus to Chiang Dao (72 km, 2 hours, THB 40.- or US$ 1.20 per person).

Click below for more blog posts about lekker Thai food
01 Oct - 20 Oct 2014 Bangkok
13 Mar - 18 Apr 2013 Bangkok
08 Feb - 06 Mar 2012 Bangkok
01 Mar - 01 May 2010 Bangkok
24 Oct - 04 Dec 2008 Khao Pilai

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2010 Map Konni & Matt

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