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Published: February 25th 2016
Days 1 - 3 Wednesday - Friday January 13 -15- The journey begins…on Wednesday at 6:30am when the Monterey Airbus picked us up at home for our connection in Monterey and the big bus leaving at 7:00 that will take us to SFO for our Korean Air 11:25am flight to Seoul, South Korea. Traffic was bad but we did finally arrive in time. As we approached the Priority check-in desk, a nice man walked up to tell us that our flight would be about 45 minutes late departing due to snow in Seoul. We found the lounge and hung out for a while. We finally took off about an hour and fifteen late. We were concerned that we would miss our connection to Chiang Mai. It was a great flight and the crew was splendid.
We landed in Seoul with plenty of time to make our connection as it was late in departing, but we were later in leaving as the plane had to be de-iced twice before we took off. Our scheduled arrival in Chiang Mai was 10:40pm but we ended up 3 hours late, understanding that we have gained a full day, arriving at late night of the
After getting our bags and going through Immigration, our Wanna Tours guide and driver were there to meet us. Her name was Nok and our driver is Poi. They drove us to our hotel, Dhara Dhevi Resort and we got checked in. Nok was going to pick us up about 9:00am but because we got in sooo late, were agreed on 11:00 o’clock.
When we considered our choices about where to stay in Chiang Mai, Carol Wilson at Bob McGinnis Travel recommended The Four Seasons Hotel. Annette did some searching and found the Dhara Dhevi Resort Hotel and mentioned it to Carol. After considering the Four Seasons, it was much more of a spa oriented hotel and much further away from the downtown. We were so glad that we chose the Dhara Dhevi! It’s a fabulous colonial-style hotel situated on 60 acres, about 10 minute drive from old Chiang Mai. It has 123 suites and villas, great restaurants, spa & wellness center, pools, and overlooking rice paddy fields. They were gracious and the service was impeccable. Upon checking in, they upgraded us to a wonderful suite room…we should say rooms. We had a huge bedroom, living room,
big entry area and 1 ½ baths overlooking a huge green area.
It was somewhat of a short night of sleep but we were excited to get our day started. Upon walking out of our suite, in the morning there were 3 Shetland ponies grazing and running around in the large grassy area, shepherded by a keeper. After we had a wonderful breakfast, we got ready for Nok to pick us up…right at 11:00. We took a drive into the old town which was surrounded by a wall and moat.
We passed the palace on our way to our first stop, Wat Chiang Man, thought to be Chiang Mai's oldest wat
(temple), built during the 14th century by King Mengrai, the founder of Chiang Mai, on the spot where he first camped. Like many of the wats
in Chiang Mai, this complex reflects many architectural styles. Some of the structures are pure Lanna. Others show influences from as far away as Sri Lanka; notice the typical row of elephant supports around the small stupa behind the viharn.
Wat Chiang Man is most famous for its two Buddhas: Phra Sae Tang Khamani (a miniature crystal image also known as
the White Emerald Buddha) and the marble Phra Sila Buddha. There are several fabulous structures associated with this temple. This first visit will prepare us for the MANY times we adhere to the custom of no shoes and socks permitted in a temple. Nok gave us a very good overview of the history of Chiang Mai and the temple.
Poi picked us up and we took a short drive to Wat Chedi Luang, also in the historic center of the city, and once the home of the Emerald Buddha (now in the Grand Palace in Bangkok) built over 600 years ago.The current temple grounds were originally made up of three temples — Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin. It is dominated by its massive Chedi (an alternative term for a Buddhist Stupa), mainly used in Thailand. It was partially destroyed by an earthquake in the mid 1500’s. We entered the Viharn (Sermon Hall) to see an amazing gold- pillared room with 3 Buddha images toward the back and one gold-leaf standing image in the foreground. People purchase small several small gold leafs and adhere them to the image as a sign of respect. Leaving the Viharn,
we walked around the Chedi. There was no admission. Behind the Chedi there was another pavilion that contained a reclining Buddha and several other Buddha images.
Poi then took us to Wat Phra Singh, one of Chiang Mai City’s most important temples. It houses three main structures, the main attraction being the elegantly decorated Lai Kam assembly hall and its restored murals depicting the lives of locals hundreds of years ago. Built in 1345, and renovated in early 19th Century, the Lai Kam assembly hall at Wat Phra Signh is a fine example of Lanna temple architecture. It features soaring wing-shaped roofs as well as lavish wood carvings and stuccos throughout. Inside, it houses Phra Singh (Lion Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image showcasing the graceful ‘Lion’ style. Every Songkran, Chiang Mai locals would invite Phra Singh in a ceremonial procession around the city’s main roads for the bathing ritual.
While in the Lai Kam, we both got blessed by a monk signified by a string bracelet. Another pavilion had wax-like figures of 4 famous monks seated in front of a Buddha image.
Nok and Poi then took us for a quick stop at a silver workshop
where we watched them at their handy craft, and then our return to the hotel where they were setting for a big party on the huge open space.
After getting back into our suite, we decided to get a late lunch from the pool bar delivered to our room. Then Doug decided to take a tour the grounds and shoot photos. This evening we arranged for an in-room massage. It was wonderful! They set both of us up on mats in the entry area. We had a wonderful night sleep, thinking about what will come tomorrow.
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