In comparison to today’s insistence on the instant, more than a month is forever. Here are some photos from my visit to Thailand, forever ago.
Two days into Bangkok, we visited Wat Arun. Across the river from a majority of the city’s other sights, it was thankfully not nearly as crowded as the Grand Palace. Any attempt I made to capture its entirely failed, but even from just this detail, you can see it’s an amazing structure.
A day trip to Ayutthaya is definitely recommended if you have time. This is a glimpse of Wat Mahathat, the most famous wat among many in the ancient Thai capital. It’s where the buddha head rests among roots.
We rented bikes while in Ayutthaya and got hopelessly lost trying to find a floating market by following a series of arrows. Only near the end did a sign have the date: 2005. The reward for our journey was to discover a completely out of the way wat. The only people we saw were a few children playing near the broken structure. Inside the wat without a roof, behind what’s left of the altar, was the broken buddha’s torso. On top rested these broken golden pieces.
The next day I was determined to visit the Grand Palace and one of the roads on the way there was decorated with these shops on both sides. Altars and statues stood facing the street, including some scarily life-like ones. The monk is a statue. The guy next to him is not.
I won’t scare you with other photos from the Grand Palace because almost every one is filled with ‘people mountain, people sea’ (unless it was only of the roof). With luck, there was only one person in here – a little girl stopping to take photos with her iPad. The future in action.
After a week in Bangkok, we headed for Chiang Mai. We arrived on a Sunday evening, just in time to catch the last hours of the Sunday Market. It was a grand affair and spanned almost the entire width of the old city. I was determined, and dragged my friend all the way to the other end, oooh-ing and aaah-ing at all the offerings on display. By the time we headed back, it was after midnight and the market had disappeared with amazing speed. This was one of the views on the way back.
Chiang Mai is the perfect city to bike in and I spent at least two days getting lost in and around the old city. Some people prefer motor bikes because they can see more and go farther, but there’s nothing like wandering and stumbling upon hidden treasures. Although if you’re on bicycle, stay away from the major streets near the river to the east! It takes much bravery.
The road we took out to the river wasn’t too crowded and we ended up spending a good while lazing in the shade of an ancient tree by the water. There, we spotted this man as he fished, fished, fished, fished and fished.
Later, wandering the streets on bike again, I came across another market only just being set up this time. People were all business and concentration and didn’t seem to notice a stranger slowly passing through.
Having been in China this past year, the weather in Thailand soothed my soul. The air was pristine to me and skies have never been so blue.
Near the end of one of our Chiang Mai days, we came to a part at the southwest corner of the old city. There were ponds, people finishing up picnics… and an entire army of pigeons. There, we caught this sunset.
Chiang Mai was a fantastic place to spend New Year’s Eve. The square itself was too crowded and we opted to sit just south of it by the water. Paper lanterns filled the sky as more and more wishes were sent. Then there were fireworks. A lot of fireworks.
The temple atop the hill west of the old city, Doi Suthep. When no camera can capture it all, I focus on the details. The colours, gold of the stupa, red of the temples, blue of the sky, were so rich and bright and it was an amazing place to be for New Year’s Day.
Chiang Mai in general is an amazing place to be, any time. It was tempting to stay there forever and our guesthouse especially was a wonderful place to be. The city has everything you could ask for including (but not limited to) history, exploration, markets, friendly people, calm side streets, unique shops and cafes, an active nightlife and most importantly, spectacular food. And it was affordable too! Looking through photos now only makes me wish I were there…