Thailand: Chiang Mai, Part II
I spent the day discovering Chiang Mai's ancient temples on a half-day tour. This tour included historic and religious monuments from Wat Doi Suthep, Wat Suan Dok, and Wat Chedi Luang. It wan't difficult to marvel at the scenic views of Chiang Mai city and the intricate architecture of historical Buddhist and Hindu relics.
The drive up the mountainous terrains and lush landscapes set the tone for the trip. Upon arrival, we climbed the mythological nagas (dragon-headed serpent) staircase. More than 300 steps to reach the temple. At the top you have he chance to enjoy a panoramic 360-degree view of Chiang Mai city. Wat Doi Suthep was simply magnificent. We spent our time learning about the rich history and symbolism of the many structures that surrounded us.
Next, we visited the Wat Suan Dok, a Buddhist temple built in the center of a walled settlement. Among its sights are the 157-foot, bell-shaped stupa and a bronze Buddha statue in the Bhumisparsha-Mudra posture, robed in the style of the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom.
Our last stop was the historic Wat Chedi Luang, a majestic Buddhist temple featuring distinctive stone designs influenced by the Lanna architectural style. We wandered around this recently restored temple and see the intricately carved details on its pillars. This Wat was my favorite of the three. It was tranquil and you could choose to participate in a monk chat, if you pleased.
After a day of history, I decided to participate in something else specific to the region of Northern Thailand, Khao Soi! Khao Soi is a Burmese-influenced dish, found in Northern Thailand. While in Chiang Mai, I tried different variations of this dish at a variety of locations. I stopped at little-known streetside vendors as well as trendy restaurants. On this particular afternoon I ate at Kao Soy Nimman, a place often packed with locals around lunch time. Kao Soy offers 10 different variations of this brothy delight.
One of my favorite moments during this trip was spent at Kao Soy. In the past, I have met many people with trepidations about traveling alone. Sometimes it revolves around fear of safety and sometimes it revolves around everyday anxieties--like eating alone. But there I was, sitting quietly across from a stranger, in Chiang Mai, eating a bowl of Khao Soi, happy as ever.