I really had forgotten how much I loved Chiang Mai - It's such a great place!! It's really easy to get to as well - only takes about an hour from Don Mueang Airport (I should tell you that Don Mueang is the old airport - it had been closed and everything moved to Suvarnabhumi but then the powers that be realised that the new airport couldn't actually cope with all the flights so Don Mueang was reopened and now most internal flights go from there). We had a blast - we were staying in a hotel called The Raming Lodge which is within walking distance of both the night market and the old town so it was in a great location. It was also really nice, not 5 star or anything, but it was clean and comfortable - although the toilet was a bit odd.......look.......I could wave at Chris whilst using it.....not that I did....but, you know, I could have.....if I had wanted to. (Neils, I want you to know that I am resisting saying anything!!!). We then rented a Song Tao and went to visit Wat Prathat Doi Suthep (you can read about the history of the place here) which was as beautiful as ever (although I have to say that with Chris's sooper dooper new camera we got some cracking shots!!) then we went to The Gallery for dinner (it overlooks the river and the food is absolutely gorgeous) and then we went to walking street and my Mum shopped till I was ready to drop!!! We did manage to get some amazing things including a couple of wedding presents for Derek and Anne (Guy's I really hope you like them!!)
On Sunday poor Chris had to head back to Bangkok for work (bloody client changed a meeting on him at the last minute so he had to cut his holiday short) so we decided to spend the morning visiting a few temples and then go for Sunday Lunch. We visited the oldest temple in Chiang Mai - Wat Chiang Mun which is located within the walled city on Rajpakinai Road. King Mengrai allegedly lived here whilst the city of Chiang Mai was built and one of the reasons Chiang Mai is so popular during Songkran is because inside the Wat is a tiny crystal Buddha which is thought to have the power to bring rain. (We put money into the alms bowls to bring good luck)
Then we visited Wat Phra Singh which is in the centre of the city (intersection of Singharaj and Raidamnern Road) and was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. It's an amazing place and actually houses a scripture repository which was designed specifically to house the mullberry paper sheets used by monks to keep records. After that we were all templed out so we went and grabbed some lunch at the Irish bar/restaurant we had found when we visited with Tom. Chris headed off to Bangkok and Mum and I had a relaxing afternoon at the spa having our tired feet massaged back to life before heading back out for more shopping at the Sunday Walking Market. (I think she bought half of Chiang Mai - it was a struggle to get everything into the suitcase!!)
On Monday we were up early so decided to go visit a temple just north of the city called Wat Jet Yod which was built in the 15th century to host the 8th World Buddhist Council. Chris and I had never made it there on our previous trips so I was quite curious to see it - OMG it was amazing. The design of the temple is based on the Mahabodhi Temple in India which was the site of the Buddha's enlightenment and it's got Indian figures carved all over it. The name of the temple translates to 'The Temple of the Seven Spires' and is in reference to the very uncommon design of the temple's Chedi which is a square base topped by seven towers. Whilst we were there we got chatting to one of the Monks based there (he wanted the chance to practice his English) and he told me that the next time we visit Chiang Mai he will act as our guide and take us round all the temples, explain the rituals and where they come from. He then asked for my phone number - I wasn't sure at all about giving it to him but figured that it would probably be very bad karma to give a monk a wrong number!!.
Then it was back to Bangkok