Three Chiangs and a Phayao


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April 20th 2012
Published: June 14th 2012
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Chiang hopping


Love is...Love is...Love is...

...playing with the trunk of your loved one.
Chiang is an old north Thai language (Lanna, to be precise) word for city. Northern Thailand seems to be full of places called Chiang; we visited at least three, plus a town called Phayao that is presumably awaiting confirmation of Chiang status. It does have a big lake and lack of foreign tourists, so surely deserves a mention here at least.

Outside its cities, northern Thailand is a favourite place for trekking among the villages of various ethnic minorities. It’s also close to the border with Myanmar where, just a few weeks before, we trekked for three days. The landscape and some of the people seemed quite familiar to us, albeit more developed and prosperous. With this and the searing heat in mind, we took life easy, trekking for only a day.

This was a day that started with a first for us – a ride on an elephant. We considered the ethics of riding on one of these magnificent beasts, couldn’t come to any firm conclusions, so decided to give it a go. It was good fun, but slow going, and had a novelty value that wore off well before our one-hour circuit was over.

Ben rode
Dummy monks, too real for comfort.Dummy monks, too real for comfort.Dummy monks, too real for comfort.

You had to go very close to see if they were real or not. Very spooky.
a camel in Australia anyway. He ate a camel burger too. We didn’t see elephant on the menu in Thailand, thankfully. But we did see numerous fried insects at Chiang Mai’s hectic Sunday night market. We couldn’t bring ourselves to try any, just yet. Give it time, and alcohol, or desperation. We didn’t try ‘horse pee egg’ either, which almost formed part of our cookery class. Our teacher wisely decided against poisoning us, and settled for watching us risk self-immolation instead (see the pics).

When we eventually make it home, our faithful readers are welcome to visit and sample the delights of our Thai cooking. Horse pee egg and fried insects are subject to availability. Our own cooking skills, face-melting chilli experiences, and weird ingredients notwithstanding, the food in Thailand, from street stalls to restaurants, was a constant delight, with much more variety than we’d experienced in Myanmar or Indonesia, for example.

For the first time since staying with Paul in Melbourne, we had access to a swimming pool, at our surprisingly cheap yet luxurious (for us) hotel in Chiang Mai. We presumed there must be some catch, but we never discovered what it was. Ignorance is bliss.
Yes, it looks like the Buddhas are ‘Subduing Mara’ again.Yes, it looks like the Buddhas are ‘Subduing Mara’ again.Yes, it looks like the Buddhas are ‘Subduing Mara’ again.

Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
So was lounging by the pool, which imbued our days with a restful inertia.

Despite this, we dragged ourselves from our torpor fairly often, to visit more of the obligatory temples, and some of the numerous small waterfalls to which northern Thailand is home.

There’s something strangely addictive about visiting these Buddhist temples. Superficially, it can be somewhat repetitive, since they tend to follow a similar format: Dragon serpents (Naga) on the outside, a Buddha statue (or several) and friezes inside. Part of the fun is anticipating which one of the 57 Buddha poses the statue will represent. It transpires that it’s almost always ‘Subduing Mara’. Mara is a demon, and one can only assume a very tenacious one, given the amount of time Buddha devotes to subduing it.

Waterfalls have featured intermittently on our travels, certainly not with the frequency of Buddha statues, although perhaps with greater variety. There are ones to photograph; ones swim under; ones to jump into; and ones at which to despair about the litter that parts of Asia are suffocated by. There’s no easier way of spoiling nature’s beauty than with discarded plastic bags, polystyrene boxes and drinks cans. Sadly, we again saw it at a waterfall near Chiang Mai. But at another nearby, and later close to Chiang Rai, we saw nature’s beauty, had a swim, slide and paddle.

In truth, the third Chiang, Chiang Khong, merely provided a stepping-stone for a hop over the mighty Mekong River, into Laos, where more waterfalls and good food awaited us.


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3D street art 3D street art
3D street art

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai Sunday night marketChiang Mai Sunday night market
Chiang Mai Sunday night market

Lots of great goodies to buy, if your backpack can fit, and lots of food to try, if your stomach has a lot of space.
Local specialities.Local specialities.
Local specialities.

Not suitable for vegeterians.
Horse pee egg!Horse pee egg!
Horse pee egg!

We joined a cooking class which included a visit to the local market. The smell of this egg was strong.
The roof is on fire!The roof is on fire!
The roof is on fire!

We learned how to set fire to the frying pan. Kids, do not try this at home!
Interior of small Buddhist TempleInterior of small Buddhist Temple
Interior of small Buddhist Temple

We visited a lot of temples but a lot were very different from each other with various decorations and Buddha postures.
Interior of Buddhist templeInterior of Buddhist temple
Interior of Buddhist temple

Try to count how many Buddhas there are.
The trees of wisdomThe trees of wisdom
The trees of wisdom

Trees around the temple have signs of what to do or not to do.


14th June 2012

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This is one of the best picture I have seen in a long time.
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playing with the trunk of your loved one
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dfgdfg
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wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

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