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Beginning of a love affair with mopeds

THAILAND | Saturday, 5 May 2012 | Views [788]

After a 12 hour train ride from Bangkok we arrived at Chiang Mai at 8am.  The train ride was semi-comfortable, but I am not sure why they call it “special express” since I am pretty sure it made every step possible.  Although it was not the fastest, it was still nice because we didnt lose any daylight from our trip. 

Chiang Mai is a busy city but much cleaner, smaller, and easier to navigate than Bangkok.  Chiang Mai City roads are set up in a square surrounded by a small moat on all four sides.  Markets are plentiful of course, and mopeds rule the streets.

We stayed in C.M. Bluehouse in the Moonmuang area.  We think the owners are French.  Almost everyone who worked reception was French and nearly all the guests were French as well. 

The first day we rented bicycles and a moped from Mongkol Dee Tours.  Riding the bikes was far more nerve racking than the moped.  You just can’t get up and go quick enough to keep up with the insane traffic.  Needless to say we got some looks while trying to make our way to a market tucked way into a part of town where mainly only Thais go. 

The evening was spent drinking Changs (beers) on the balcony of our hostel, watching the “magical” thunder and lightning storm pass through.  Ves called it “magical.”  It was really nice. 

The second and final day in Chiang Mai was spent almost entirely on a moped or “moto”… which was so much fun!!!  We drove to a temple outside of town high on a hill top called “Doi Suthep.” 

Doi Suthep was beautiful and ornate and gaudy just like so many other temples we’ve seen.   Nearly every surface is gold, meticulously carved, and ends in a definitive point.  Lotus flowers and inscents are in everyone's hands or laid upon the altar, and piles of shoes are laid outside the temple doors, the smarter of the visitors placing theirs in the shade. Monks were walking amongst the grounds and praying in the temple, which always tempts me to take a picture, but I refrain.  Doi Suthep was gorgeous, but still left me hoping for more.  How bad is that!?  I am already accustomed to seeing temples…

Since we had the freedom of transportation, we ventured further up the hill passed the palace and visited a Hmong village named "Kun Chang Kian".  It is tucked away passed a very narrow, winding road through dense forest with crazy tall banana trees as far as the eye can see. 

The village was quaint, clean and peaceful.  And deserted, not sure why.  We literally only saw three people, one of which served us a freshly grinded and brewed cup of coffee from the locally grown coffee beans.   The oddest part of the village was seeing solar power panels on rooftops of shanties and a little girl playing on a cell phone.  This seems to be the theme of Southeast Asia, westernization creeping its way in to every corner of the world. 

On our way back down the hill we stopped at a temple “Wat Patlan.”  This unexpected stop made the whole trip to Chiang Mai worth spending the night on a train.  This temple is free, simple and unpretentious (if I am allowed to imply that the “gold temples” are pretentious meaning extremely fancy in appearance).  The temple itself is just solid white with a typical sized Buddha, which is also white. But, the best part of this spot is the garden down the side road. 

A wide stream flows over boulders from one end of the property to the other.  Stone Buddhas, dragons, and smiling elephants are posing everywhere throughout the garden.  Wooden signs are posted on trees with messages first written in Thai and then in English, with quotes like “if a lion has no teeth and no claws the dog should be able to fight.”

Monks were roaming around playing with puppies, which were also roaming the property.  Little stone laid paths lead to more altars carved out of the garden.  It was so quiet and so serene. I wanted to live there. 

We are back on the train again headed back to Bangkok.  Tomorrow afternoon we head back to Bangkok to an unknown destination.  Well I don’t know but Ves does.  The next 8 days are a complete surprise for my birthday.  I am a lucky girl!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: chiang mai, doi suthep, mopeds, temples

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