We arrived in the city at mid-afternoon. Founded in the thirteenth century, Chiang Mai is a center of culture and commerce. The metropolitan area holds almost a million people. Located on the Ping River near the Burmese border, Chiang Mai reflects those influences, as well as the more traditional Thai art and architecture. On the way in, we stopped at one of its most famous temples, Wat Chedi Luang. The huge chedi or "royal pagoda" was heafily damaged in the seventeenth century. However, it has now been partially reconstructed so one can see how it might have looked.
Inside one of the buildings in the temple complex is a magnificant standing Buddha statue, and outside is a gilt reclining Buddha.
Everywhere we looked were carved, gilt, painted, bejewled creatures. Animal, human or fantasy, they never ceased to amaze us. Embellishments were everywhere, and not even the smallest detail was overlooked.
After a busy day, we were glad to settle into our lovely room at Yaang Come Village Resort.
All of our hotels here in Thailand have been lovely, and this one was no exception. The room, as you can see, was spacious, and our private balcony overlooked the beautiful hotel grounds.
Next door to the hotel was an excellent restaurant called "The Whole Earth."
Their menu included Thai as well as Ayurvedic Indian cuisine, and we sampled both.
A few blocks away was Chiang Mai's famous night market. After dinner we browsed among the many vendors and shopped for souvenirs.
Our next adventure was a bicycle tour of some of the outlying areas of Chiang Mai. We met our guide, "Bird," and set off for a 1 1/2 hour tour. The bikes were first-class, and Bird did a great job of guiding us through what would have been scary streets and intersections. Our ride took us along the Ping River and most of the rods were quiet and narrow. We saw small villages, rice paddies and local orchards. We made several stops. One was at a particularly old temple, and another at the seldom-visited ruins of Viang Khum Kaam, which some consider the ancient city on which Chiang Mai was built.
Lunch was a special treat. Duke took us to one of his favorite local restaurants for a sampling of northern Thai cuisine. We enjoyed an egg noodle soup with chicken, fantastic fried pork ribs, fried chicken northern Thai style, sausage and green papaya salad and pork curry. All were served with sticky rice in the Lanna tradition.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing. Then, after another great meal at The Whole Earth, we enjoyed a quiet evening and prepared for our return to Phnom Penh.
The next day, we said a reluctant goodbye to Dob (left) and Duke, and boarded our flight back to Cambodia. We carry with us fond memories of the people we met in Thailand, expecially Mr. Ving and Duke, and of all the wonderful things we saw and experienced. Our ten-day stay passed much more quickly than we expected.
Our special thanks to Sally Watkins of Century Travel in Austin, TX, and to Asia Transpacific Journeys and Khiri Travel for their coordination of our Thailand adventure. We hope to travel with you again.