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Chris & Lindee see the world

Chiang Rai Day 1

THAILAND | Wednesday, 31 August 2011 | Views [588]

The White Temple

The White Temple

Sleeping in a little seemed to be on the cards today.  Our cosy bed and soft pillows had me so comfortable that I didn't even hear the children leaving for school.  Our breakfast feast of fresh fruit, eggs, bacon for Chris, fresh warm crusty bread rolls with jam & peanut butter, washed down with freshly brewed coffee & Chinese tea (real tea leaves) was a perfect way to start today's adventures.
Our host Toony suggested we leave about 1030 for some sightseeing.  A very narrow & steep road that led to our first stop, a White Buddha (Doi In Cee Stupa) sitting atop a mountain.  As we neared the top we passed a number of other white Buddha images on various bends in the road.  There is quite a bit of construction around the Buddha as it's a relatively newly created temple compound.  Each building project can take some time to complete as they are each funded by donation.  There is in place the foundation for what will one day be a spectacular viewing platform overlooking the valley.
On our way back down into the valley we meandered through windy, bumpy laneways passing through a local Akha hilltribe village, where the villagers cohabit quite comfortably, closely with their neighbours and various critters; the women going out to do all the work & the men hanging around all day watching their flat screen tellies in their open sided huts!  And on through plantations of various crops including rubber trees, pineapples, rice, tapioca and eventually into fields of tea.  We were able to drive right into the centre of the tea plantation and hop out for a closer look.  Chris thought the tea bushes looked like camellias which, in fact, is right.  They are a variety of camellia:  Camellia sinensis...interesting stuff!
Pushing on, we made our way to the Krun Kron National Park for a hike up to the highest waterfall in Chiang Rai Province.  Through the jungle we trudged up & ever upwards while the heavens opened in a torrential tropical downpour bringing the humidity to 100%.  We were fortunate to have been supplied with large umbrellas which kept us comparatively dry (from the rain at least).  An hour and a half later we arrived back at the car, drenched and weary, but with some beautiful photos of the teaming waterfall and lush jungle.
Ever onward, make our way to Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple.  A short rest in a small coffee shop gave us the opportunity to dry off a little more before we tackled the temple compound.  This wat has been created by a Thai artist in recent years for the people of Thailand.  It is spectacularly beautiful and gives the impression that it could be made of silver with the sparkle that it has even under cloudy skies.  It is actually white washed and laid with glass mosaics.  The interior of the temple is incredibly gracious with the rear wall painted with a gentle image of the Buddha almost framing the Buddha statue which sits behind a very lifelike image of a monk in peaceful meditation...so beautiful.  The temple itself is surrounded by ponds, filled with some of the biggest gold fish we've ever seen, and some rather bizarre statues.  The rest of the compound is filled with a number of other buildings, some of them still under construction.  Among them the fanciest toilet block ever with its ornate gold trim and a little lady that very kindly directed me to "western style toilet" and instructed me to remove my shoes & replace them with the scuffs provided!  Also included in the compound were 2 galleries of the artists works and, of course, the opportunity to purchase some of his original artworks or prints of them.   And you can never miss, at any Wat, the market stalls...always worth a bit of a look.
Our final stop was Wat Phra Kaew on a mountain.  The viewing platform overlooks downtown Chiang Rai and the surrounding countryside for some spectacular photo opportunities.
On our arrival back at our accommodation we shed our damp and dirty gear & freshened up to relax before heading over to Phaet's kitchen for more of her delicious food.  A quiet cool drink overlooking the pool and beyond and we dined on spring rolls, pad thai & green curry, to the sounds of the monks chanting floating across the rice paddies once more.
So blessed!

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