Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Chiang Mai III: Wat-ever
Day three at Chiang Mai was designated for temple-hopping. The city really has no shortage of wats. We took a morning walk to the Old City, the heart of the Chiang Mai which is still enclosed by old walls. Around the walls are also canals that very clean, without any visible rubbish. Made a horrible mistake of having breakfast at SAFE HOUSE Court's cafe. The waitress got our order wrongs and the food was lousy. 'Nuff said. We were so fussy about what to have for breakfast that we ultimately made a bad choice. Ugh.
Our first temple for the day was Wat Pan Ping. It has the typical temple layout with viharn and chedi. What caught my eye was the pair of makara guardians. There were also murals on the walls and quotes nailed on trees.
Just one temple and we were ready to sit down for coffee. LOL. Hunted down Ponganes Espresso because of the good reviews and we weren't disappointed. Tried the Australian style latte and double shot afogatto (excellent kick). Apparently the owner does his own roasting and blending. The place also attracts a diverse crowd-- a local lesbian couple, a Malaysian gay couple (us!), a Caucasian straight couple and a sweaty local in a bicycle suit. Haha.
Next up, we visited Wat Sam Phao that is named after a golden model of a Chinese junk that is enshrined in its chedi. A replica of that ship can be found on their front gate. Another interesting thing about the place is a in-house massage parlour right at the entrance.
Then it was Wat Pan Tao, a beautiful temple made of teak, very different from the rest. The aged wood gives it a very ancient feel. Historically, the viharn was a throne hall.
The largest temple we visited was Wat Chedi Luang as it is made up of three temples. Inside the grounds is also the City Pillar shrine. Women are not allowed to enter the shrine. The viharn is huge and contains the Phra Chao Attarot (Eighteen-cubit Buddha). Along the walls are also resin monk statues that chant out electronic blessings when donations are made. Behind the viharn is a large chedi that was restored by UNESCO, but the results don't look very good. It was the tallest structure in ancien Chiang Mai.
Moving in, we went to Wat Chang Taem, the home of the famous bronze Buddha Phra Fon Sæn Ha. Unfortunately, we did not manage to take a peek at the famous statue.
By then, we were exhausted and melting under the sun. Found refuge at a cafe opposite Wat Fon Soi with good food and WIFI. Not really sure what its called but its owned by Buathip. Spent a long time there having a long lunch of northern style pork curry rice, mango sticky rice, pineapple cooler and two coconuts. Practically had to force ourselves out of the cafe. Wandered around till we reached Ta Phae Gate. Bought some pork skin snacks at one of the market stalls.
Aimlessly walked the streets till we reached Wat Pan Waen, hidden in a housing area. The buildings are mostly white and have interesting decorations of mythical creatures. That was our last temple for the day. Since we had an hour or so to kill before the Saturday Walking Market started, we had another coffee break.
Found a hidden gem called Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden Think their main business is terracotta art. The whole garden cafe is full of Cambodian style statues and bas reliefs that reminded us of our Siem Reap trip. Their iced coffee and tea are quite good and although we weren't hungry, we ordered their mango sticky rice because of its handsome presentation!
At 6:00 PM, we walked to the Saturday Walking Market. One is spoiled for choice there. So many things to see, eat and buy. Our dinner was stir-fried squid egg sacks and a bowl of dry noodles. Love the springy texture. Also had some Gac fruit juice. The fruit looks so artificial due to its bright orange-red hue. Tastes kinda like passion fruit. Towards the end of the evening, KH was itchy for a foot massage, so we stopped for one at the market. Halfway through our massage, a troupe of performers did a traditional deer dance and a martial arts performance. I felt that the massage was quite good, but KH's masseur was a little too distracted by the Baygon road show that was happening nearby. Headed back to Ta Phae Gate and slowly made our way home.