What, Another Wat?

28th August, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Manda writes:

The last time I was in Thailand, I was only 14 years old. It was an extended family holiday, tagged on to the end to one of our regular visits to Hong Kong. On that occasion, we'd visited Bangkok and Pattaya. I was probably too young to appreciate the architecture (only developed an eye for this kind of thing later on in life!) and all I could remember was that it was very hot and humid.

This morning as I set foot onto Chiang Mai's busy streets, memories of my previous visit came flooding back. The heat was the first thing that hit me, not a dry heat but a humid one. My attention was then drawn to the vast number of tuk-tuks (three-wheeled taxi carts) parked up on the roadside and their accompanying touts, trying to score a fare. I uttered 'mi-ow' on the way past and believe it or not, I wasn't trying to impersonate a cat. According to Bangkok bob, Mi-ow actually means 'no thanks' and is definitely an easy one to remember, even though I felt a bit silly saying it for the first time!

Wearing a helmet is still not a compulsory thing over here. We saw many mopeds go past, some transporting entire families balanced precariously on the feeble-looking two-wheeled-frames, their hair blowing freely in the wind. Somehow, they seemed to know what they were doing and have probably got that balancing act down to a fine art. Tuk-tuks and taxis weaved in and out, and it was like watching a slalom match. Then I spotted a disposal van with seven or eight people hanging off the roof. They smiled, so I gave them a wave and they reciprocated. On hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea as they could have easily lost balance and come tumbling down! Oh well ...

The Tha Phae Gate
A disposal truck goes past the Tha Phae Gate on Chiang Mai's eastern side.

One of the things I'd like to do here is to go along to a Thai cooking class. I was surprised at how many were advertised. Like the Internet cafés, and eateries, there was no shortage of them. We picked up a few leaflets to compare prices and menus.

The shops here do not take up much room and are crammed ten to the dozen into the narrow streets. Every now and then, we'd come across a gap which invariably made way to a wat (temple). We would see a wat one minute and then another one would reveal itself further down the street. They look beautiful and a lot of work has gone into the detailed patterns on the exterior. It's fascinating to think that some of these wats were built in the 13th century. They've seen a thing or two! After a while, it is easy to became blazé about it. Like when we went to Turkey - the first few ruins were amazing but after seeing five or six, it was 'just another pile of rubble'. Still, the novelty has not worn off just yet and here is a picture to prove it!

Manda in front of Wat

Manda poses happily in front of the Wat Dok Eung