The morning came as one of our roommates woke me up early…never mind, i was always a morning person..i never spend my time lingering on my bed when i am on a trip..Always love the breeze of the air of a new uncharted place..I woke up and open the window..gazing at the view of Chiang Mai from the 5th floor of So Hostel…goshh…the air was chilling and the view was superb..Doi Suthep (often referred to a temple located on it) stood firm under the canopy of blue sky..i saw a red song thaew waiting for people to use its service..i remained there for quite a while..appreciating the blessings God has bestowed upon the Thai and how they took care of this blessing..
We started our morning scouting for food around the hostel..The hostel didn’t include breakfast as on of the perks but that was okay for me..i always loved to go out finding what the locals like to eat..The receptionist suggested that we went to Warorot Market, a local market 10 minutes walk from Kalare Night Market. On the way to the Warorot Market, we saw monks walking to the temples ready for their morning prayer..it seems that temples adorned with golden ornaments like nagas, prangs, statues of Buddha are common sights in Chiang Mai..We arrived at the Warorot Market to find lots of delicacies to eat..sausages,mushroom,cakes etc with price ranging from 10baht to 30baht..pretty cheap eh? I went inside an alley where i saw a local drinking hot soymilk and some fritters..Warm protein is always good to start a day..We then ordered glasses of soymilk which apparently has some red bean,mung beans, pinto beans and some other ingredients..The “Gasucang”(Gadis Susu Kacang,an Indonesian abbreviation for a girl who sells soymilk in Krendang,Jakarta) who sold it apparently couldn’t speak in English told us with hand gesture and calculator that the price of a glass of soymilk was 10baht..i enjoyed it with some dough fritters which tasted about the same like i had back home..
After having our stomach filled with grubs,we were ready for our journey..I figured the best way to go around a place would be on foot or on a bike. I chose the latter since Doi Suthep..the place that we wanted to go was quite far outside of the city. We hired a 110cc bike for a price of 150baht a day.It was a decent automatic scooter..I figure it would be strong enough to take 2 adults to a mountain he3…well..let see…Equipped with a map, we were ready to go to the mountain..
Our main destination was Doi Suthep Temple, a beautiful temple built by the King of Lanna (ancient northern Thai Kingdom) on the site of a dead white elephant carrying the relic of Buddha. It was not hard to reach the temple on a bike. The road was smooth and the scenery made me claimed this was the best motorcycle ride in my life..The air was crisp and less traffic up hill. We even thought that we were lost in the middle of the lush greeneries around us..Some tourist riding bicycles and some of them took a song theaw up the hill…whatever your options..you should not miss this place.. We took a stop at a rest area which was called Chiang Mai scenic view..It’s actually a place built by the Thai tourism authority as a shelter for tourists that go to the hills of Doi Suthep.In this simple hut with a podium overlooking the hills, we can enjoy the sight of Chiang Mai city from atop.We can even see the airport with the planes taking off and landing on it. There were many paddlers selling fruit,sausages and hot drinks. We also saw some local tribe selling their handicrafts and a local artist setting up a drawing booth. Nop, the artist, offered to draw a portrait for only 25 baht for one picture. We were interested in how fast he drew the portrait. It only took him 5 minutes to complete a portrait and he did it while chatting with us. Quite a skill, eh?realizing my drawing talent was restricted to a stick man i used to draw when i was a kid..haha..
After a ride for 20 minutes from the view point, we arrived at Wat Phratat Doi Suthep ( the full name of the temple). The temple was located on a hill..to reach it one can climb a notorious 309 step flight of stairs or took a trem (with a price, of course)..We climbed the stairs and kinda enjoyed the toil…Some Thai students were singing or playing music for charity made the climb was not bad at all..when we arrived at the upper end of the stairs, we bought an entrance ticket for 100 baht.Apparently, to enter this temple, foreign tourists have to pay for the ticket but not the locals. Being an Indonesian Chinese,actually i could easily sneaked through the gate like what i did in some temples in Ayutthaya..but we chose to be honest and true..we bought the tickets only to find that the entrance was not guarded at all..where was the guard?shoot..i should have just enter without buying the ticket haha..
Doi Suthep temple complex was a sight to be awed. A beautiful chedi surrounded by some Lanna buildings adorned with gleaming gold plate is a sight you will never forget. The mystic air around this temple has a positive influence for those who seek for solace. I saw some believers kneeling and go around the main chedi chanting prayers towards Lord Buddha. The smell of incense was thick in the air adding a religious theme of the site.
After spending some narcissistic time with the cameras, we decided to descend the stairs again only to find some cute little girls wearing ethnic costumes.. These little girls were from the Hmong Tribe,one of the hill tribes that live around Chiang Mai. We took some pictures with them because i know that it might attract the chicks attention back home..u know,the “oohhh so adorable, where do u find these cuties..” kinda response..we gave some bahts for the girls who gladly accepted.
Heading to our scooter, we continued our scenic ride to our next destination, Bhuping Palace. It is the royal winter residence in Chiang Mai where the Royal family stays during seasonal visits to the people in the northern part of Thailand. When we arrive there, we paid another 100 baht just for the entrance. We expected to see a royal residence there, however, to our disappointment..some of the sections of the residence were closed, even the access to the Royal Residence was closed. We were not sure why and didnt bother to ask because the sights of the gardens made us forget our previous attention. I would prefer to call this place a garden than a residence. Acres of land with flowers of many kinds gave this place a serene place to take a rest for a while…enjoying the picturesque garden and the fresh air..
Enough with the garden, now heads up! Let’s go tribal. Relying on the information that we got from the map, we found out that there was a Hill Tribe Village just up north Bhubing Palace..this sounded like a good plan, where else you can see an authentic Hmong village just a 20 minute ride?
Well..apparently the “village” that we seek was no other than another tourist trap..This place was full of peddlers selling some stuff like ornaments, stones, clothes,teas etc. We walked up the hill away from all the peddlers and found a sign board “water fall”…we were excited to see a waterfall..but well…it was only a small stream of water leading to a pond where some local kids swimming..nothing interesting actually..but the ride to this place was exciting..curves and hikes…definitely likes! yikes!
As we came out from the village, we saw a signboard telling us that there was a campsite just up north, but we didn’t continue our adventure that day..saving it for another day..(which we totally blew up….we never came back hahaha). We rode down south to the city passing all the places we had been..and we encountered some other places like Huay Keaw Waterfall and Chiang Mai Zoo (we saved these places for later visit)..
Arriving at the hostel, we decided to book a one day tour to ChiangRai and the surroundings. We met Boris, a German tourist, and Mattheus coming from Brazil to explore the wilderness of South East Asia. Together, we continued our trip for the next day..