Elephants and Night Markets

Okay, I had a little trouble with the name of this post.  But the point is that Chiang Mai has really fun things to do when you’re tired of visiting temples.  The collage below shows some of the night markets available in the city, as well as a few more temple pictures.  Oh, and a cheeky ELEPHANT!

Elephants!  ELEPHANTS!  On my travels so far I’ve ridden horses and camels, but elephants were by far my favorite.  All of the elephants we met were rescued from jobs like logging and begging and are now living out the rest of their days comfortably.  The photos below are pretty self explanatory – it was so much fun.


Chiang Mai: Wat Central

Welcome to Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand.  It may seem tiny compared to Bangkok, but it has far more wats per capita.  There are over 300 wats, or Buddhist temples, to explore.

The old city has wonderful wats around every corner.  But my favorite wat was Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, or Doi Suthep for short.  It sits on a hill around 15k outside the city.  In addition to the beautiful temple, you get wonderful views of Chiang Mai.

While you’re visiting Doi Suthep, consider driving a little further up to the King’s Winter Palace.  The grounds have a zillion varieties of roses and orchids (check out the flowers in the collage above).  Apparently, the Queen really likes roses.


Finding Quiet in the City

Navigating Bangkok is partially about finding calm in a bustling city.  The collage below shows a few moments of peace: taking in the skyline, choosing the SkyTrain over walking, posing with sculptures on the sidewalk.  These quieter moments gave me energy for another typical Bangkok activity – shopping at one of the huge malls.  That’s me holding my new Ferrari-shaped travel cellphone from MBK in the lower right corner.

The ‘Most Peaceful Place in Bangkok’ Award definitely goes to the Jim Thompson House Museum.  This man is a legend – he vanished while on vacation, leaving behind a growing silk empire – and his house is even more legendary.  He brought together six traditional wooden houses from all over Thailand and made a beautiful home.  The garden pictures are from his house.  The super cute silk elephants are from the dangerous Jim Thompson store.

I’ve added a few river pictures next to the JT pictures to show a little bit of the flooding we encountered.  This is where the ‘quiet’ theme ends.  Check out the water levels at the temple in the lower left corner.  We boarded our river boat from a completely flooded dock.  My parents and I were lucky not to face any real flood problems, but many Thai people were not so lucky.

Up next: Chiang Mai and Siem Reap.

Bangkok: A Dazzling City

After a peaceful hike in the mountains, Bangkok was a huge, but thrilling, place to be. I met up with my parents for a few days in neon central. Surprisingly, the temples were some of the brightest lights in the city.

One of my favorite sights was the Reclining Buddha. It is just so BIG.  And the Reclining Buddha’s feet are covered in mother of pearl.  The wat (temple) around it also has great, expressive statues and intricate wall paintings.
Right next door, there’s more grandeur. I enjoyed noting the differences between Buddhist temples in Nepal and Buddhist temples in Thailand. I have to admit it – I like the bling.