My second full day in Chiang Mai was one of contradictions. We headed to the old city where the old brick walls that once surrounded the city still stand along with some grand, somewhat tipsy, undetermined builds that may have been ramparts, temples or other structures with very thick walls. Everything seemed to have been built of a form of red brick. The compressed state of some of these, to my layperson’s eyes, actually show how well constructed they were. We had a lovely late breakfast/early lunch across from yet another well known temple. One note when travelling with anyone else, they will never be on the same clock as you. (Perhaps a spouse/partner might be different although inside I am sure one of you is seething at the hour/place/food/money at some time during any trip)
Of course I had to check out the temple as well as the teak temple next door. By far my favourite was the ancient Wat Chedi Luong, built around 1400 with its missing pieces, aged and blackened stair guard dragons and overall weathered but not beaten appearance. The famous Jade Buddha was once housed there but fear of earthquakes, after one in the 16th c., meant it was removed and eventually placed in Bangkok. (It is unlikely we will see it as many sites were closed in memory of the King). It was not until we had rounded the third corner that we discovered there had been elephants built into the upper section on all four sides. Sadly there are now only five full elephants and another with its trunk missing.
The teak temple was a simple structure with soaring beams and columns that managed to appear elegant despite their size. The floor is laid with lovely polished golden and green tiles leading to a large golden, sitting Buddha. Everything gleams in this temple when approaching the main entrance. I did not get many photos as there were adherents praying in front of the Buddha or being blessed by a monk sitting quietly to one side. He would respond to a prayer or supplication with his own verses, or possibly chants, then flick a a brush, wetted down with water, over the adherent. The water arced over each in a light spray then dissipated into a mist.
Another privileged time to be present.
Then we made the error of heading back to the little family owned hotel my daughter had been staying at for a few days prior to my arriving. (We were getting quite hot) Short back story, on the night I arrived my daughter accidentally pushed her phone between the bed and the wall. No problem, just move the bed. The bed that is cemented to the floor. The space the phone fell into was extremely thin – as are phones these days. We could not budge the phone nor the bed on our own. Naturally we sought assistance, which meant using some of my precious minutes to call for help as there was not anyone around.
Zip, gone, missing, all alone – except for other guests. After three calls, being hung up on twice, and finally my insisting someone come immediately one of the women who does general chores came. We showed the problem, as well as indicating an alarm would be going off – which it soon did, for the fifth time – and we needed to move rooms or get the phone out. So, three hours later, two staff plus us, the phone was out, slightly scratched case. End of story?
Back to our return. After spending two nights on the extremely hard bed I looked for the wife of the owner (the owner had had surgery the day before – which is why we had so much trouble finding help) to request an extra blanket. She lit into me about so much phoning and now, “complain about bed, you cause so much trouble. Your daughter come, no trouble. You come, all trouble.” I was completely taken aback. I explained it was not my phone that fell, only the one used to call them.
I also said all I wanted was a blanket. This went on for 15 minutes! She finally acquiesced nod had a blanket fetched for me. Then I told my daughter. Within 30 minutes we were packed, reimbursed for the remaining nights and on our way to a rather nice place right next door to a small temple and inside the old city. My daughter did not take too kindly to her mother being yelled at. Which was funny because if I had been on my own I would have been far less pleasant!
Ensconced in a room with a view of a temple right below is soothing. We headed for dinner at the night market. At Rebel Bites, operated by an American and his wife who is from Thailand, we heard the sad news that the King of Thailand had died. After that it was rather surreal when we already knew but many of the Thais were still unaware or just hearing about it. There were spots of laughter, merriment and normal night life along with a slight sombreness in some pockets of the streets as we headed back.
We did eat, I had a pulled pork sandwich, because where else in Thailand might I find one? Then I tried a roti, heaven wrapped up in a thin, thin pancake. Back to our room for the night. Other than Kunming, which was alright, i think it was the first time in a relatively comfortable bed since leaving home.