Chinese law grants newly married couples three days leave. As a result Jun and I found ourselves with an extra three days off. And when we tied it with our weekend we ended up with five days. We decided to go to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
We left late on a Saturday afternoon and got to Chiang Mai early in the evening. Jun had to go and get a visa before we could enter the country. It was relatively quick and we were soon on a taxi to our hotel. The place we stayed at was a cute little hotel in a quiet section of the old city. Once we were settled in at the hotel, we decided to go find something for dinner. We walked through the neighborhood streets until we reached one of the commercial areas of the old city. We ended up at a restaurant called Hot Chili that served some wonderful food in a cool environment. After dinner Jun and I walked around a bit before we headed back to the hotel for the night.
The next day we spent exploring the old city. The old city is the part of the city that used to be surrounded by a wall and moat. Parts of the wall and moat still stand. The first thing we did was explore the area near our hotel. There was a temple—Wat Puak Hong—close by that we went and saw. It had a really nice and old pagoda. This temple was the first of many that we would see in Chiang Mai.
Afterwards we walked through Buak Haad Park and enjoyed seeing the locals going through their daily routine. There were people reading on the grass, kids feeding birds, and people running through the park.
From the park we went towards the center of the old city to start to visit many different temples. The first was Wat Phra Singh. This temple was neat in that it combined a number of materials—wood, gold leaf, stone—for the various structures there. Then we saw Wat Chang Taem, which had a darker look to it than other temples we saw on the trip.
One of the larger temples we saw was Wat Chedi Luang: the historic center of Chiang Mai. This temple has a long history in Chiang Mai. One of the oldest structures in the city is located here. It was partially destroyed in an earthquake in the sixteenth century, but it has been maintained and now there are a number of beautiful buildings that surround it.
From there we took a turn and went to the Lanna Architecture Center where a pop up exhibit was located as part of Design Week. There were a number of exhibits and stores there highlighting contemporary designers in the region. These designers represent architecture, art, clothing, food, and accessories. It was really neat and we were able to visit different exhibits throughout the city.
The rest of the afternoon we visited some temples in the northern part of the old city, such as Wat Chiang Man, and saw some of the old city wall. We rested a bit and had dinner. Afterwards we visited some of the temples at night. Then we went to the hotel for the night.
The next day we decided to venture further out of Chiang Mai. We decided to go to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This is an important temple in Chiang Mai and a lot of people visit here. We took a songthaew to get to the temple. A songthaew is like a local form of transportation that you can hire. The temple is located high in the mountain and had amazing views of the city. It is beautiful; especially the inner courtyard, which is gorgeous.
From there we went to visit Bhubing Palace. As one of the royal residences in Thailand, the gardens here are well maintained. The gardens were gorgeous and the variety of flora was quite nice. The only downside was that we were unable to go inside any of the buildings. Overall, though, it was a nice visit.
After our visit to the palace, we headed back to Chiang Mai for the afternoon. We first went to grab some ice cream in the old city. Then we went to explore the city east of the city wall. We went towards the Ping River and walked alongside it. It was a gorgeous afternoon and the walk was nice. We then headed back to the old city for dinner. As we were going we stopped at more temples.
The next day we went even further out of the city and went to a different city: Chiang Rai. Our first stop was a hot springs. It was said to be a hot spring, but it was more of a rest stop on the way to Chiang Rai. It was fine, and we got to see people cook eggs in the springs.
In Chiang Rai we first went to the Baandam Museum. The museum came to fruition from the work of the late Thai artist Thaan Duchanee. There are over 40 horses here that display his work and his aesthetic. All the houses are black and have a very dark tone to them. It was an interesting experience and just fun to walk around the museum.
From there we went to visit Wat Rong Khun—the White Temple. This temple is an example of merging traditional architecture with modern culture. The main temple is an allegory in of itself. One has to start the journey in the underworld in order to venture across the bridge up to the higher plains of the main temple. There’s a mixture of symbolism and culture at the temple. You even see examples of Marvel characters and contemporary politicians as well. It was a cool place and Jun and I enjoyed it. From there we had a long drive back to Chiang Mai. Once back we had dinner and went to bed.
On our last day. We went for a leisurely walk through the old city. We saw some more temples. You would think that after visiting so many temples we would get bored, but each temple is unique and has something new and wonderful to offer. We went to the Lanna Folklife Museum where we saw more of the Design Week exhibits. And then we enjoyed our last bit of Thai cuisine.
We were sad that our trip had to end. We had a wonderful time in Chiang Mai, but it was time for us to head back to Guangzhou.