Our first day in Thailand – Old City of Chiang Mai

So we arrived in Thailand, our final country during this journey. Unlike in Taiwan and Malaysia here we can only stay one month and then we’d have to do visa runs if we wanted to spend more time exploring the country. Unfortunately, the validity date in one of the passports prevents us from doing such runs. Because we spent past 3 months in the seaside, we decided to skip the Thai beaches for now and explore the green North part of the country. On Saturday evening we arrived in Chiang Mai, the “capital of the North”!

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On Sunday we decided to explore the old city area. It’s the oldest part of Chiang Mai, contained within old, yet almost intact, walls.

We entered the old city from the South and explored mostly the SW and central part of it. We wandered from temple to temple, did some small clothes shopping (I loved that part!), ate a delicious lunch and visited the bustling Sunday Walking Street. At the end of a tiring but lovely day, we took a red truck, Songthaew, back home.

Welcome to Thailand!

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I imagine after a while one can get used to Asian cities but for me, they are still quite overwhelming. Even though Chiang Mai is not that big actually. But it’s still chaotic in this typical Asian way. It attacks all of your senses, from everywhere, all of the time. But especially when you walk with small kids on roads without pavements but full of street dogs and crazy drivers. Or you’re forced to cross the market which smell make you sick within seconds. Yes, welcome to Thailand!

So after this chaotic introduction, we accidentally found ourselves in a nice and quiet place where we could rest in a shade and unravel the growing confusion. It was the Clay Studio, a charming and atmospheric cafe. I’m sure it would be lovely to stay there for a lazy drink, but we were just starting our tour. We took a short look around, checked the map, decided on a route and took some photos. Hopefully, we will manage to come back there one day for a cup of coffee.

From the Studio we walked to the Wat Pan Whaen. Finally, a Thai Buddhist temple! I was, obviously, dressed unproperly, so we haven’t entered the buildings, only took a quick look in the outdoors.

We passed the Wat Phrachao Mengrai to which we will have to come back again. We only saw a rear side of the Wat, a charming little building on a roof of which a squirrel was running. Yes, that was the most interesting part for my Little Rascals.

I haven’t taken any photos of the streets in the old city, I will have to do it on another occasion. It wasn’t easy as both boys were still struggling after the travel and finding themselves in yet another new and unknown place. Chaos, I’m telling you! But I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this tiger, in case we wouldn’t find it again.

We entered one of the tailor shops as I wanted to buy something to cover or “dress properly” when visiting more Wats and then we decided to have an early lunch in Mae Pa Sri restaurant. It’s a cozy place with delicious food, friendly staff, and very affordable prices (around 500 baht / 13 euro for a lunch for all of us). I fell in love with their sticky rice and the juice jars were huge! We will definitely be coming back there!

After lunch, we went to the Wat Phra Sing, one of the biggest and most important temples within the old city walls.

Inside the Main Prayer Hall

N meets Naga

Assembly Hall (Wiharn)

Inside the Ordination Hall

Chedi

Next, we walked down the Rachadamnoen Rd. Despite the drizzle, first vendors were preparing their stands for the coming night market.

We walked to the Wat Pan Tao. I especially liked this temple because of its teak walls, wooden interior and not so much gold as in the previous one. Its surroundings were also delightful, with a bamboo path, little red umbrellas accompanying the bells and very interesting roofs of some buildings and structures made from dried leaves.

The main altar

Just next to the Wat Pan Tao there’s the Wat Chedi Luang, famous for its half-destroyed yet still impressive pagoda (chedi).

Main altar inside the Prayer Hall

Chedi

Naga

Reclining Buddha

When we left Wat’s grounds the street was already closed for cars. There were plenty of vendors preparing their stands, placing all kinds of items they hoped to sell that day. Souvenirs, clothes, handicrafts and obviously food. We decided to walk North to the Three Kings Monument taking a quick glance at what was offered (basically… everything).

The monument shows three kings who, as the legend says, have laid the foundation for the city of Chiang Mai. King Mengrai, King Ramkamhaeng of Sukothai, and King Ngam Muang of Payao.

In front of the monument, there’s a big square in which Little Rascals decided to run and play. After they got (even more than before) tired we went back to the night market which started just next to the mentioned square. We wanted to be there in the early hours as we heard later it gets really crowded (it does!). Once again I took no photos from the market. First, I was busy eating and helping Rascals with their food. And then I was busy with my Rascals. V has fallen asleep in my arms and once we moved him to the carrier, S and N needed my attention. But the market (Sunday Walking Street) is amazing so I hope we will go back there to take some photos (and try more of the specialties).

So to end the day with a local accent we took a red truck, Songthaew, back home. S was so excited and contented! After all, he came to Asia only to try new modes of transport! ;-)

N looking at the city walls from the red truck

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