20.05.2014 39 °C
After moving hotels yesterday morning, we just wandered around the new area, this area is very different from the previous area, mainly as it is full of Wats. There are three Wats on the same street as our hotel, but we were not dressed 'politely' so decided to go another day. The hotel is based around a swimming pool and there is a balcony in each room, and on the balcony, there is a seat hanging over the edge of the balcony, I haven't been able to sit on the overhanging seat, as just the thought of it gives me terrible vertigo.
This morning, I persuaded Bill to go on a city walk, (I love to wander around and get lost, Bill isn't so keen). We had decided because of the heat we would 'walk' by tuktuk, but a couple of drivers gave us different prices and kept changing the price when we agreed on one, so we decided to walk. Well, I decided we should walk, Bill took great exception to every tuktuk driver on the road and held a grudge against them all morning (he refused to talk to any tuktuk driver or acknowledge them). Our first point on the map was the Three Kings monument; which was of King Mengrai (the founder of Chiang Mai) and his two friends. The three of them designed Chiang Mai in 1200. Residents treat the monument as a shrine for the three men and you can buy replicas in tourist shops. I felt we were just going here as it was on the walk, but we really enjoyed it. In this area, in early morning, you can see lots of monks and local people giving alms to the monks. Near the monument was a beautiful Wat, which was dark wood and gold, we were sorry we didn't have time to go in, but we had places to go.
Wat Hua Kuang, was mainly being renovated, but we got a chance to walk around the grounds. The roof had four layers and was different from other Wats we have been to see. Outside the temple, was a statue of a grey elephant, which was unusual as elephants are usually white at temples. Walking along the road, we found White Elephant gate, but there was no gate or elephant, just a break in the wall. The wall that we can see around the city (mainly in the four corners) is a replica; the original wall was torn down by the Japanese to reuse the bricks in WW11. In the 1970s Chiang Mai decided to rebuild the five city gates and all four corners of the wall. Walking along side the wall we were looking for Wat Kun Kha Ma, which is known as the horse temple. It was impossible to miss as it had about fifty statues of horses all along the wall. Next door to the 'Horse Wat' was the 'Dragon temple', which was called Wat Ratchamontian, to get into the Wat you had to climb massive steps, which were about a foot high, but at the top was a huge seated Buddha on a raised platform, so was worth the struggle.
The next stop was quite a walk away, so we got a tuktuk to take us there, the driver thought we were Australians and was telling us how much he loved Australia and hoped to travel there one day, although Bill told him we were English twice! Wat Tung Yu, was also being renovated on the outside, but we did have a nice stroll around the outside looking at the statues. I had read about a statue of a policeman holding a child, with another child near him, but we couldn't find it anywhere, it was only after we had walked out of the Wat and walked passed the police station that we found the statue.
We were looking for the Monastery of a Thousand Kilns, but ended up in Wat Chedi Luang, where we had been the previous week. Outside the temple was an area called Monk Chat, where several monks were sitting. Next to the monks was a sign saying 'Don't just stand and stare, come and ask us a question', so after making myself 'polite' we went over and sat with the monks around a round table. The monk we were speaking to was in his early twenties and was a great English football fan. When we said we came from near London, he asked if we were near Tottenham Hotspurs or Chelsea, Bill said we weren't, nor were we near Liverpool or Manchester, the monk told us he was a big Manchester City fan and showed us his bag which was in Man City colours. We told him our Brother in Law, Andy, was a big Man City fan and he blessed Andy!
I have been wondering about the different robes that monks wear and the meanings they had, he told us they had a robe for in the temple a robe for out of the temple and a multi area robe, he also explained that the different shades were due to washing the robes and nothing spiritual! We chatted about religion in the UK, the age boys become monks, Manchester City winning something or other and people giving alms., his English was very good and every now and again there would be words he couldn't understand. We both really enjoyed it and felt very humbled, when he thanked us for allowing him to learn about us and our country.
We stopped for lunch at a wonderful place, which gave us super spicy food, it's great when it is really spicy, as we love it. We are aware we only have a few weeks left in Thailand and yesterday when we went out to eat, I was really sad when I realised that we only had a couple of weeks of beautiful Thai food left.
We are watching the news and reading up, after the Army has announced Martial Law, the Home Office just tells us to stay away from certain areas, but there is no suggestion to leave the country, obviously we will keep watching out for changing advice or activities.