Memories of Thailand

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.

Wat Arun

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.

Wat Mahathat

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.

Forgotten Pieces

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.

Preserved

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.

Angry Bird iPad - CLICK

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.

Aftermath of a Market

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 Streets

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.

Fishing, fishing, fishing, fishing and fishing

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.

Market in Progress

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.

Blue Skies

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.

Park Sunset

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.

Lanterns for Wishes on New Year's Eve

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 Gold of Doi Suthep

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…

New Year in Chiang Mai

In a blink of an eye, 2012 has come and gone and we spent its last day biking around Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The weather is all sunshine and blue skies and it’s been such a contrast to our time in Bangkok. I really should change the subtitle of this blog to something travel related… Because my current state of mind can only keep updated with the happenings of the world but reality here, before me has captured all my attention, in the most delightful way.

New Year’s Eve was spent by the side of a river marking the eastern old city wall here, with friends and strangers alike joining in the celebration. Skies were remarkably clear with just the right amount of wind to fill all that we could see with the glows of wish lanterns. People would cheer when a lantern took flight and shout words of encouragement in cases of unsteady progress. “C’mon, just a bit higher!” “Gogogo!” The countdown took place in a crowded square some 5, 10 minutes away and we simply sat enjoying the seemingly endless fireworks flashing in anticipation. No one around us knew when the exact moment was, when that second hand in our time zone proclaimed 2013… But when fireworks continuously exploded right above our heads and cheers echoed down the street, we too toasted in celebration of a brand new year. It was amazing and so completely different from new year’s past. A day later, we still see stray wish lanterns floating on carrying with them another hope, another dream.

The day went by steadily and at one point, I literally fell on my face. It was the excitement of seeing friends again and running with flip flops on uneven grass, they led to my (harhar) downfall. From what I heard and what I remembered, it must have been an epic fall. I now have battle scars from the adventure. All a person can do in that situation is to laugh it off and hope no one caught it on tape, though being a 10 minute YouTube star does have it’s appeal, and definitely not dwell on how completely embarrassing that was. A fellow hostel guest commented that she’d never heard anyone laugh so much after falling. I took it as a compliment.

We saw what a temple is suppose to be like at Doi Suthep, an amazing complex perched above windy roads overlooking the city. Multitudes of believers held lotus blooms and offered prayers for the year to come. The respect simply was, simply existed, and not forced upon visitors by an army of guards. Dancers performed before a captivated audience, adult and children alike. No camera could capture it all.

Now, I am back at the hostel and it’s 2am, Chiang Mai time. 2013 brought with it a promise I’d made to maintain a website of sorts, one new addition per day whether it be post or photo or poem. Though it’s past new year day, I cling to Toronto’s timezone as justification. No lateness here! And even if there were, I would lead yesterday no differently. Many times, I would pick up a pen to write or my electronic device to type, but the people and conversation always deserved my time more, and I knew in the quiet of darkness I could gather my thoughts. With different people we talked about different things, from interracial couples to the weakness in public regulation to the impacts of our choices. At so many points I thought to my journal. So philosophical, what we’re saying! But the words were lost in an overall experience and now, not remembering every detail of many hours here, I let those words sink into my mind like seeds into soil. The ideas, the experience, the friendships, I’ll nurture them all.

Tomorrow, I’ll buy a sketchbook and spend my day in the sun. I’ll climb ‘my’ tree and nap by the river and eat my own weight in food. Nothing but good times ahead!