One of our tours in Chiang Mai included a visit to four temples — including the gorgeous Wat Chiang Man, which houses the Crystal Buddha, and Wat Suan Dok.
Our first stop was at Wat Suan Dok, where we saw a monk on cell phone. We had also seen a monk in a mall in Chiang Mai checking out an iPad earlier in the week. When I mentioned the surprising juxtaposition of the traditions of monks and the contemporary technology, our guide told us that it was normal, and of course they needed the technology, they were busy studying! In fact, some of the monastaries use their funds to buy cars to help their monks travel to do good deeds. Our guide said: “it’s the man who drives the car, not the monk.”
Buddhist temples are known for their Nāgas, snakes who protect the Buddha, and are beautiful protectors of the temples:
I also liked the local dog protecting the temple:
We also visited Wat Chiang Man, known for the two Buddha statues: the marble Phra Sila, and the Crystal Buddha (Phra Satang Man). The Crystal Buddha is quite small, and both are in an altar surrounded by other beautiful statues (in the centre, behind the bars):
At other temples on our tour, we saw gorgeous elephants decorating the temple:
And little elephant and horse offerings left at the base of the elephants:
And the many heads on this one:
One of the temples we visited was still decorated for a wedding ceremony that had just happened earlier that morning:
And the monks were busy eating lunch:
The temple Wat Chedi Luang had a statue of Tan Pra Maha Kajjana — who some people think is a fat Buddha statue, but we got the real story — there once was a very handsome monk (not Buddha), and because he was so good looking it was distracting to others (they thought he was Buddha!). And so that others would stop focusing on his outward appearance, he became fat and ugly.
I really loved seeing the examples of Lanna architecture — from an earlier period than what we had seen in Bangkok:
This creature is called a “Mom” (and looks nothing like my Mom!!!):
We were lucky enough to be blessed by a monk:
And I couldn’t get enough of watching monks go about their daily lives:
After our lovely temple tours, we found a riverside restaurant for lunch. I decided to order one of my favourite dishes, Green Curry Veggies (kaeng khiao wan) and oh my goodness was it the HOTTEST GREEN CURRY EVER!!!! In the north of Thailand, they don’t use as much coconut milk in their dishes, and so the less-saucy green curry was more like a chopped salad of green chilies, mushrooms, shallots, and crazy hot red chilies. HOT HOT HOT.
Fortuitously, we had ordered a plate of really mild veggies alongside:
When I started my meal, I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to eat it because it was too hot! And after a few bites, the strangest thing happened — I got totally hooked! So I happily ate the rest of my plate, (being careful of the red chilies) and loved it. It was a meal I will NEVER forget.
After lunch we walked home, and en route stopped at a local coffee shop for a fabulous milky iced coffee:
And at the end of a long couple of days of sightseeing in Chiang Mai, what better way to relax than to hang out at the bar with a drink, and the world’s best bar snacks?
Which was accompanied by my new-favourite bar snacks: roasted peanuts with shallots, chilies, and lemongrass. I don’t eat peanuts often (my sister is anaphylactically allergic to them, so I stay away), but these were a special treat.