More temples and Beer Chang in Mae Sariang

I decided that as it was my last day in Chiang Mai, i’d spend it wandering around the city itself and seeing some of its temples. I visited Wat Chiang Man, Wat Chiang Yeun, Wat Ku Tao, Wat Phan Tao, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Mahawan, Wat Bupparam and Wat Chetawan.
By far and awy the most impressive was Wat Chedi Luang. It encloses a very large and venerable Lanna style stupa, dating from 1441. The Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha now held in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew) used to reside in the eastern niche here in 1475. However, the most captivating was Wat Chiang Man, for the many obersvations about life and about one’s hopes and fears & dreams written upon wooden plaques and scattered around the grounds of the temple. This is an example of just one of them . . .
“Love is a garden which is watered by tears.”
Wat Ku Tao gets its name because its chedi looks like a pile of watermelons placed on top of each other ; “Tao” in Thai northern dialect means “watermelon.”
In the grounds of a lot of the temples, there were women selling caged birds, which was a trade i had read about but not been witness to until now. When i say ‘caged’, they were confined in a tiny wicker container not even large enough to house one bird yet there were about 4 in each one. I felt compelled to spend my 10THB to release a few, as i hated to see them kept in such conditions. However, i’m sure once free, they were caught again and resold for another 10THB.
Ate at the vegetarian buffet at Gap’s this evening. It’s from 7-9pm every night and costs 130THB each, but only 90THB if you’re dining alone, which is considerate of them ; get a 40THB reduction if you’ve got no mates! The food was wonderful incidently : there were about 8 dishes to choose from so you could pick your favourites or try a bit of everything – like i did!
Chiang Mai Eateries
  1. Night Bazaar ; nice and cheap and plenty of places to sit down if you don’t want to eat and walk!
  2. AUM Vegetarian restaurant : lots of choice, plus it’s a bookstore so you can chill out and read while your food settles. Sit upstairs as its a lot more atmospheric and you can dine on the floor Japanese style!
  3. Gap’s : vegetarian buffet is fantastic and the restaurant’s in a lovely setting, complete with candlelight

Mae Sariang

I caught the earliest bus (8am) up to Mae Sariang to be guarannteed some accommodation for the night. I’m staying at the North West Guesthouse for 120THB per night. The place has got real character, the room is light and airy and i had my first hot shower since arriving in Thailand. Absolute bliss!

Lonely Planet were right : there’s not a great deal to do here. It’s nestled in some very beautiful surroundings but you can see the village’s attractions (which consist of a handful of small temples) in a couple of hours.

I did consider doing a trek here but after asking around it appeared that treks in Mae Sariang do not necessarily go ahead unless enough people show an interest. So, with that information i didn’t really want to wait around and take the risk in a place where there’s nothing else to do. I had planned to take the 6:30am bus this morning up to Mae Hong Son until i met this Canadian guy, James, and several beer Changs later i was pretty drunk and it was 2am!!!

From talking to James i discovered that he’d also come here to do a trek and had been speaking to a guide, Mr Adul (who trades under the name of Salawin Tours) who had agreed for his younger cousin, Nigorn, to take him (and only him, as there don’t appear to be any other tourists in this village!) on a 2 day trek for 2000THB. He suggested i join him (my thoughts exactly!) which should then put the cost per person down to 1000THB. We’re due to speak to the guide this evening, so if all goes to plan James and i will be trekking into the forests, doing some bamboo rafting, elephant riding, and staying at one of the local hilltribe villages (where the Mr Abdul and his cousin are actually from).

Photo is of elephant at Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai


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