Another day, another Temple! Similar to Croatia, substituting 'church for 'temple'.
High in the mountains outside Chiang Mai, we visited a spectacular Temple. Many Buddha in various positions and colors (one in jade, or at least transparent green plastic). Very elaborate place. 308 steps to get there after driving for 45 minutes. It was a bit hazy so the view was limited, but we were on the top of a mountain with the city below.
Tonight we had dinner at the old Chiang Mai Cultural Center which is now a dinner theater. We were treated to 12-13 traditional dances performed by northern hill tribe people. One had two young men dancing and swinging 12 long swords. Thought we would try this at home.
It's off to The Flight of the Gibbon in the mountain 'jungles' about an hour from the city. "The Flight" is on zip lines through the tops of trees. We lost count, but there must have been 15 stations, taking a couple of hours with two guides. A very exciting and fun experience, once you could eliminate the fear factor. There were nine in our group from age 7 to 72. Very safety conscious guides, which was good !
After station 5, Emma was quite confident, so the guides sent her down the lines all alone. She was thrilled, and we were proud of her!
One line was 800km, almost 1/2 mile, passing over a deep gorge. Another, called Super Man, had us literally jump into the open held by a rope attached to our back. It was a close approximation to Bungee Jumping while on a zip line. You weren't hanging on to anything so legs and arms were dancing all around and then you landed in a rope net that you climbed up to reach a platform.
We had our final dinner at the Whole Earth Restaurant along with John and Yuko's friends. Great fun, and good variety of Thai food (Yuko rated it 7 out of 10).
Mom and I got up early to serve a group of Buddhist monks some food...rice, soup, fruit, and water. It's a Thai tradition for individuals to gain merit by offering alms. The hotel made up the trays, so we just had to show up. Monks are not allowed to store food or to cook, so they depend on collecting alms each day.
We rented bikes for an hour tour through small lanes in the old city. We stopped at the Treasury, a museum of Thai coinage used over the centuries, including a history of the Baht. Current coins are a tribute to the king whom all Thai people highly revere. The king awards high rank to people who serve the country in various ways by bestowing "the exultant order of the white elephant". The king was born in Cambridge, MA.
Had my third and best oil massage, so all those aches from yesterday are gone. With generous tips, my three hours of massage cost under $30.
Really liked both places that we stayed at and got to see a great deal of the old city. The people were like those in Bali, very kind, always smiling and helpful. Had several "lost in translation" moments, but they just seem to add to the adventure
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Chiang Mai and Beyond