Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chiang Mai

The flight to Chiang Mai was painless and I’m sure the boat ride would not have been enjoyable at all after the fist couple of hours. I spent a couple of days visiting some of the different temples in Chiang Mai and going through the National and Tribal museums. I tried to go to the Tribal museum the first day but was told by a person that wanted to take me on a tour that the museum was currently closed being remolded. I ended up calling the museum later and ask if they were open and the museum was not closed or being remolded. The tribal museum was a lot like the museums in Vietnam and China that are called minority museums. Here is a picture I took when in the tribal museum prior to seeing the sign that says no photos that you can see in the picture.

The guidebooks always seems to suggest visiting different villages that are minority or tribal. While in China and the start of Vietnam I did some of this but with a couple of exceptions I have not found this really enjoyable. For the most part when going to one of these villages I have had 2 different experiences. The first is you take a tour and they try and sell you stuff and I personal feel that you are not getting a true view into their culture. The 2nd is where I have gone through the villages on my own and I get the impression that the people don’t really like you walking through their village. I’m sure I would not like living in a place with tourist walking though looking at me like I am in a living zoo. I think I will not go out of my way to do any of these villages on the remainder of my trip.

I visited Doi Inthanon National Park on a tour one day. The park has the highest mountain in Thailand and the tour took us to the top so I have visited the highest place in Thailand. The tour stopped at a couple of impressive waterfalls on the trip up the mountain.

We also stopped at a tribal village where they tried to sell us some stuff and then at a market on the side of the road. From the market the guide walked down and bought some strawberries and I think got a discount on what she bought with the agreement to bring us down to buy some also. I bought some and thought they may have been a bit over priced but they were fantastic.

The other stop was at a couple of pagodas built for the king and queen of Thailand by the air force. I found the flowers around the pagodas very pretty. This is the queen’s pagoda.

The one thing that I found a little bit disappointing about Doi Inthanon was not seeing many birds. It seems like in Thailand I hear birds a lot of times but see very few. The guidebook had talked about the large number of different spices of birds in the park but I did not see many of them.

I wanted to go to Doi Suthep which is a mountain that overlooks Chiang Mai but when I tried to visit it one day I either had to wait until a truck filled up with tourist or pay what I thought was an outrages price for Thailand. I then decided to rent a motorbike to visit Doi Suthep on my own. With the motorbike I had a lot of freedom to stop when I wanted to and paid less than half what the truck wanted to take me to the top.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the temple at the top of Doi Suthep with an impressive gold pagoda.

I also walked through the grounds of Phra Tamnak Phu Phing which I am not really sure what it is but think it is some kind of residence for the royal family. I was wearing shorts and they made me pay a little something to rent a pair of pants before entering. I found the flowers on the grounds really beautiful.

I enjoyed the motorbike so kept it for my final day in Chiang Mai and rode to Lamphun which is a town not that far from Chiang Mai. It had a couple of temple worth seeing and I also went through the national museum in Lamphun. This is a picture of Wat Phra That Hariphunchai which is in the top 8 temples in Thailand. Top 8 of what I am not really sure.

While in Chiang Mai I saw something that made me think it was the start of a joke. I wish I would have got a picture of it. There was this elephant walking out of a bar. This was a baby elephant and it was an outside bar but all that kept going through my mind was “An elephant walks into a bar…insert joke”.

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