May 2 2008

Trip Start Feb 16, 2008
Trip End ??? ??, 2009

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Today we were going to rent some bicycles from our hostel to explore the old city.  We were awoken by the rooster and the continuously barking dogs again.  We had breakfast at our hostel, then rented the bikes for $1.50 each and headed out.  We thought we would go see the bigger of the many wat temples in the old city and explore the many soi's.  We first headed north to the Wat Chiang Man, which had a small crystal Buddha and a marble Buddha which were made 1,800 years ago and 2,500 years ago.  They were housed inside what looked like a golden jail, but we were able to get pretty close to them.  Again a lot of gold and beautiful carvings made up the temple, inside had very detailed gold leaf art work on the walls.  Next we biked to the three kings monument just off one of the main roads.  There wasn't any English, so we don't know the history of the monument.  When we were getting on our bikes, another man came and talked to us, asking us where we were from and said his English teacher when he was little was from Toronto, he told us about the Sunday market that runs along that main road and chatted a bit.  He showed me that I should put the straps of my purse around the handle bars of the bike, then no one could reach in and grab it from the basket.  We said good-bye and headed to the next wat.  Its hard to know how to perceive people when they come up and talk to us, they are all pretty friendly, but you never know if they are up to something.  We try to be friendly, but always have our guard up.  We biked around a bit on our way to Wat Chedi Luang and looked at a cute boutique hotel, just curious about prices.  We eventually made our way to the wat, which has the ruins of a HUGE chedi that collapsed during a earthquake in 1545.  There was a guy at the gate that was all chatty, then tried to get us to go on some tour to a factory in Laos, no thank you we repeated over and over.  The ruins reminded us of the Mayan ruins in Mexico.  Restoration on the chedi, which included the dragons at the stairs and the elephants halfway up the tower, was in full swing, but they still retain the "ruined" look.  It was pretty impressive.  There were a few smaller temples around, adorned in jewels.  They were doing a lot of work on the larger temple.  There was also a  massive tree that was planted in 1746 after the prince came to Chiangmai.  This wat had a lot of stray dogs around, they have a rescue for them at the temple.  The same guy at the gate wanted Jes to get some tailoring, Jes told him he got a better deal in Bangkok, the guy wasn't too happy after that.  We made our way south a bit the turned west to head to the area of the city we hadn't explored at all yet.  We found a small Wat Jin Rin and stopped quickly to look at the older architecture.  We continued west and stumbled upon the Thai Kingdom Hall, which isn't where we will go on Sunday.  We turned north on a main road and tried to look for somewhere to eat.  We came upon the last Wat we wanted to see, Wat Phra Singh.  There were numerous small temples, all different in design, as well as one large one.  One small temple housed a jade Buddha, which I was able to get a close up of.  Another small temple had old, faded paintings on the walls, which was nice to see something that was authentic.  There were some large stone chedi's on the grounds, which were quite impressive.  There was a treed area that had inspirational sayings nailed to them.  Overall the wats in the old city were beautifully designed , it was a nice variety also.  We had had our fill of temples, so we headed to the Chiangmai saloon for a late lunch.  After we headed back to the hostel, but we were feeling pretty good still, minus some sore butts.  So we thought we would be adventurous and head out of the old city.  We headed through the old gates toward the night bazaar area.  The traffic was a lot heavier and it ended up being a bit overwhelming for me.  So we circled around and headed back to the old city.  We thought we would go get a massage at a place near the saloon restaurant that we had spotted.  They were busy so we headed across the street.  We ended up getting Thai massage, since the lady had misheard us.  But it ended up being wonderful.  The Thai massage here in Chiangmai seems to be more traditional, thus better.  After the massage the tiny woman who runs the place sat and chatted with us for a bit, I told her I was a massage therapist back home.  She really liked us and asked if she could take our picture, to remember us, then she gave each of us a fan, to remember her by.  She was super sweet.  We were starting to feel the overdose on sun we had gotten, so we figured we were done biking for the day.  We turned in the bikes and had a sun-stroke induced nap.  We gave the Australian couple, that we met on Wednesday, a call.  They wanted to get together, but it ended up not working out.  So we headed to a restaurant just down from our hostel for dinner.  It had a very nice ambiance to it, the food wasn't the best we've had though.  After we thought we would go back to the restaurant we had found our first day, the one with the swings, and have a drink.  We relaxed for a bit, but we both faded pretty quickly.  So we called it a night.  Chao for now!

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