On arriving in Chiang Mai I feel as though a magic reality has conjured up things from the recesses of my mind (or perhaps heart). One example is the prevalence of 2005 Honda Civics, the last car I owned, they’re everywhere; is Chiang Mai a happy corner of my brain in the form of a city?
My hometown is the city of churches, Chiang Mai is the city of wats. They are varied and plentiful and truly beautiful and amazing. My second day I intended to go on a Wat Walk, instead I bailed water out of the courtyard of the yoga shala so it wouldn’t flood. However, every day is a Wat Walk, I can see one to my right now, with beautiful gilded gold on the front of the apex of its roof. From grand glittering presences to slightly crumbling brown monuments, they all make up the character of Chiang Mai city and beyond.
Wat Doi Suthep is in the mountains north west of Chiang Mai and by far the biggest and most spectacular wat I’ve seen yet (Cambodia next week may change that!). Whilst busy with tourists, once you step inside, the sense of calm and unbusy is soothing. A view over Chiang Mai city is rewarding; clearly identifiable moats around the edge of the city and the river to the east, a sense of it being quite small though knowing once you step inside those moats, there is a flurry of things going on.
In one week there has been an indigenous festival, an adventure festival (check out Lara’s photos), a mini flood, markets, yoga, foooood, friends and innumerable interesting things and people. Each day stretches to fit in what might take a week elsewhere.
Then the sense that time is running out, I’ll need to leave soon but still there is so much to do; Thai boxing? Elephant Nature Park? Cooking school! and whatever else just crops up with a moments’ notice… 4 days left in Chiang Mai – wat first?