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So far, Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of my favorite stops on my trip, the people are friendly, the landscape is beautiful, the temples (Wat’s) are gorgeous and very different from other temples I’ve seen. I must be honest, one of the main reasons I chose to come to Thailand was the food. I love Thai food, all the rest was a cherry on top ;). Chiang Mai is in the north of Thailand, and is known for its Lanna architecture even though the Lanna people absorbed into Thai culture. The temples are quite stunning and almost ostentatious. However, the

Chiang Mai was a walled city, mainly to keep out Burmese raiders back in the day. The old city is still surrounded by the (remnants of the) wall and the moat.

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I stayed in this nice little guesthouse within the walled city, but in the locals (non-touristy) section. Made it a little more of a hike to get to certain attractions in the city, but they have these “Sŏrngtăaou or red-trucks” that function as shared taxi’s/buses. You tell the driver where you are going, hop in the back and he takes you there, only about 50 cents. Only bummer is if he picks up other passengers, then you have lots of stops. But very easy to get around. Even so, the area I stayed in had great and (super) cheap food, much better than the tourist area and the same pad thai that I paid $1 for sold for $3-$4 in the touristy area.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
This temple is perched on a hill above the city of Chiang Mai, sadly, they are burning old crops to make way for new planting, so the city is quite hazy and I was told I missed out on a great view.

Dragons greet you at the bottom of the hill. I’m not sure if the dragon is giving birth to 4 more dragons or is eating 4 other dragons

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A long climb up the hill, with the dragon body as your bannister

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You’re greeted at the top by a pair of scary looking statues, including this one, I assume they are for the usual chasing away of evil spirits

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And the true prize at the top, Wat Doi Suthep!

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I think this represents Buddhas belly, rubbed it for good luck 🙂

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The King is pretty beloved

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Easily the tallest bamboo I’ve ever seen, at least 75 feet tall, growing at the King’s summer palace grounds

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Wat Chedi Luang, a temple in the middle of the walled city, dating back to 1441. It’s massive and looks curiously like a pyramid, it was damaged by an earthquake or cannon fire, in the 17th century, but they’re not sure which.

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Sunset view

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Reclining Buddha

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Seriously! Have questions about being a monk? About Buddhism, come to Monk Chat club 🙂

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This one was on the same grounds, but slightly different, not golden

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Those stairs are steep!

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Dragons guarding the steps again

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Elephants line the structure as well

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The main temple, again with the same type of intricate work as Doi Suthep

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The inside of the temple

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I met these really cool sisters from Samoa (independent Samoa, different from American Samoa btw). They were staying at my guesthouse and we pretty much hung out for our time in Chiang Mai. It was really nice hanging out with other well traveled folks (who were foodies too!) and hearing about their travels as well as a new country for me, Samoa. And figured out that I’ve been mispronouncing it all these years ;). Also nice we could exchange some tips, me since I had just come from Angkor Wat and hearing some must so things in Europe. And I now have tour guides for when I visit Samoa.

I went with the ladies to an elephant adventure, where you ride the elephant and bathe them. Though I must say I wish I had researched it more, afterward we were discussing it and we felt bad for the elephants being used for the amusement of tourists. It’s something I’ll avoid in the future. Though I do think the elephants enjoy the bath quite a bit.

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Had a Thai massage at the Thai women’s prison. It’s a sort of job training opportunity for prisoners who are soon to be released. It also provides them with funds for once they are discharged. It’s been quite a success story. These little Thai women have some strong fingers, pretty sure mine could have squeezed the life out of me, no problem.

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