Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Sleeping all day Tuesday meant I was WIDE AWAKE at 5:30 am. Without the normal tasks that I would consider doing when waking up early (Laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc.) I decided I might as well get my day started 🙂 I threw some clothes on, brushed my teeth, put up my hair (Guess what mom?!? I didn’t even brush it, ha), and headed out the door.
Goal #1: Wat Chiang Man
I was hoping to find something to eat on the way to the Wat, but all I was seeing was restaurants offering “Western” breakfast. Umm…. no, I do not want eggs and ham! I want THAI FOOD, when in Rome,well Thailand, right?!? Being stubborn I just kept walking, and before I knew it I was at Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chaing Mai City as it was built in 1296 when the city was built. Aside from being the oldest temple in Chiang Mai, this temple is home to one of the most treasured artifacts in Thailand, the Crystal Buddha . Walking through the Temple gates I realized why I should always start my days early:
- The temperature is tame, and somewhat comfortable.
- You get an ancient temple all to yourself.
With no schedule, no time constraint, and no one else with me, I was able to slowly meander through the complex soaking in everything around me. The birds were chirping, the grounds keeper was watering the plants, and the wind was blowing. Talk about peaceful.
Wat Chiang Man:
Fun Fact: King Mengrai lived in the temple while overseeing the construction of Chiang Mai, the capital of the Lanna Kingdom.
My favorite shot 🙂 surprise,surprise… In the foreground you can see the Chedi Chang Lom
Goal # 2: Wat Phra Singh
Walking to Wat Phra Singh I starting to get “Fungry”, but I was still being stubborn and wanted to find a breakfast that the locals would eat. Lo and behold, I find a food cart right in front of the temple. When getting advice about this trip people kept saying, “Find the vendor with the longest line”, and this stand had a line about 5 people deep when I got there! I got really excited that not only would I finally be eating but that I would be getting something authentic that the locals would eat. nomnom.
Once I got closer, the specialty appeared to be some sort of omelet. Check out the pictures below to see the process! I also stopped at another stand and grabbed some potato snacks 🙂
This egg creation was EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED (yes, all caps were necessary). The monks were covering their eggs with ketchup, so I followed suit, but on the side, you know, in case it was awful 🙂 I also put some spicy chiles on the side. Pulling out my handy-dandy utensil kit (Thanks Mom and Tom!) I dug into my eggs. The exterior was crunchy, and the inside was fluffy. Mixed with the ketchup and chiles I had a perfect salty-sweet-spicy combo to start the morning. I didn’t come close to finishing the rice, but I was saving room for the potato bites. Shaped like a mozzarella stick, this bite-size morsel was essentially mashed potatoes with panko on the outside. I literally have NO idea what the sauce was, but it almost tasted like a sweet-chili sauce.
By the time I had eaten 2 potato bites (I bought 4) I noticed that the ants had decided to join me for breakfast 🙁 Giving up on the last two, I discarded my trash and headed into the temple.
So, at this point I have been to a decent number of temples. Instead of visiting the Buddha statue in the main building I wandered around the side distracted by two young monks.
A friend recently asked me,
Is it scenic?
And at first I wanted to say yes, because I have truly loved my experience here so far, but honestly, I would not describe the cities I have been to as scenic. For me the beauty is not the grandiose landscapes, but the small things, or the continuous contrast between ancient and modern.
For example, the monks that distracted me…
For me, this moment I captured, was something beautiful.
You might not agree, but then again,
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Wat Phra Singh:
Behind the main building there was a beautiful garden that offered a much needed escape from the scorching sun. Throughout the garden there were these wonderful quotes/sayings. My favorite was…
It instantly reminded me of the academic journey I am about to begin…
Leaving the charming garden, I set forth to accomplish my next goal.
Goal #3: Buy my bus ticket to Chiang Rai
Per usual, I did my research and found that there was a ticket office in the old city where I could buy my ticket. Normally, you would have to go to the main bus station (Arcade Station) to buy a ticket, but this ticket office charges only 20 baht surcharge for the convenience of not having to drive 20-30 minutes to the station. The thing is…I could not find the office. I had a map, and I had an address BUT I COULD NOT FIND IT. After a decent amount of walking, I stumbled across Tree Sis Coffee Shop. I order an ICE COLD coffee and got directions to the ticket office (I was walking in the wrong direction :()
The coffee was SO SO good.
Rehydrated, I headed the 50 feet to the ticket office. Yes. It was that close.
With my ticket in hand I was onto my next destination, originally I had thought I would been having lunch at this point, but the walking/temples/bus ticket took way less time then expected.
So, Goal #4 became: Wat Pan Tao
On my way to the temple, I passed the Three Kings Monument. This monument shows King Mengrai, the founder of Chiang Mai; his friend King Ramkamhaeny of Sukothai; and King Ngam Muang of Payao. According to legend, the three kings worked together to lay out the city of Chiang Mai.
The monument stands in front of what used be a “City Hall” but is now home to the Chiang Mai Art and Cultural Center. Thinking of my grandfather and his propensity for visiting museums and other educational sites, I actually went in the museum.
Not going to lie to you, I have absolutely no patience for ready all the plaques in the museum, hence why I tend to avoid history museums, but I got the overall idea 😉 Essentially, the museum walked you through the history of Chiang Mai from the days of the Lanna Kingdom to present.
I loved all the dioramas! So tiny and yet SO detailed!
Cultural Arts Center:
The entire museum trip was worth is for this one picture…
Ok, back on track, and headed to Wat Pan Tao.
Wait… look…pretty fountain…
Wait…look… there is a shop…
Ok, so I wouldn’t buy any of those shirts, but in the states someone would easily pay 20-30 USD for them. Ha. 200 baht is 7 USD 🙂
But I did buy a pair of pants from the store next to this one 🙂 For 4 USD!
Leaving the store, I am finally focused on my goal, and then I realize I lost my water bottle. UGH. WHY ME? Every step in Thailand is precious and should not be wasted, so the idea of retracing my steps was agonizing. But I needed my water bottle. So back to the museum I went, and sure enough it was exactly where I thought it would be.
Ok, now I am finally going to Wat Pan Tao. Once I got there I wasn’t that impressed. I mean when you have SO many temples to choose from, you start to get picky.
Wat Pan Tao:
But look at these cool fish I found!
With Goal#4 checked off it was time for the next temple.
Goal #5: Wat Chedi Luang
This temple is conveniently located right next to Wat Pan Tao. Yay!
Wat Chedi Luang:
I feel in love with all the colors at this temples, and I also made friends with some young monks who graciously allowed me to take their photo 🙂
Wow. Can you believe I did all that in the morning!
Now it was time for lunch! Based on another Blogger’s recommendation I was seeking SP Chicken.
Lunch at SP Chicken:
I arrived, sat down, and almost instantaneously ordered WATER, ice, half roasted chicken, and sticky rice 🙂 You might be thinking, “Roasted chicken? How is that special?”
O. but it was.
The chicken was moist, and seasoned with an unforgettable garlic glaze. Served with sticky rice and sweet-chili sauce this meal was so simple, and yet so complex. Essentially, finger-licking good!
Rehydrated, and with a full belly, I wanted to check out the market people kept mentioning, the Warorot Market. After haggling with a tuk tuk driver I got a breezy ride to the market from SP Chicken for 50 baht. Win!
Goal #6: Warorot Market
was not what I expected.
But not in a bad way 🙂 The thing that left me in awe was the true abundance, how there were so many stalls selling the same thing and so much of that one thing.
Here are some sights from the market…
Ok, with the “To Do” list DONE, I was ready to go back to the hostel, and OBVIOUSLY I decide to walk. About 10 minutes into my walk I realized my polarizer filter is somewhere on the streets of Chiang Mai 🙁 I like the perks of the polarizer for the sun/haze/water shots, but I mostly like having it on my lens for protection. Walking…Walking…Walking…I was contemplating how I will find a new one, and guess what I come across?!?
A freaking camera store. My lucky day 🙂
They only had UV filters in the size I needed, but I went ahead and bought it for the “protection” aspect.
After about another 20 minutes, I finally make it back to my hostel ready for a shower and some resting!
Eventually, my stomach started to growl again…
The same blogger I mentioned before also recommended the North Gate night market, which just happens to be by my hostel. So, around 8pm I headed out in search of the Lady in the Cowboy Hat for her Khao Kha Moo, which is slow cooked pork.
The pork, lightly covered in a thai bbq sauce, melted in your mouth, and paired with the salty soft boiled egg, it was bbq perfection. This was a no-nonsense affair. You sit down, food and water appears, you eat, you pay, you leave. The Lady in the Cowboy has truly garnered a following, which I am now a loyal member of 🙂
The day was busy, but jam-packed with food and sights! Can’t wait for another day in Chiang Mai!
Arianna the Wandering Pipette