Find the Jade Buddha before the next full moon...

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Thailand  , Chiang Mai,
Sunday, November 6, 2005

Locals say that Chiang Mai is the spiritual capital of Thailand, and that no trip to the 'Free Country' is complete without a pilgrimage to the capital of the north. With its hundreds of temples, its ancient layout within a moated central citadel and its many activities in the countryside around, many past visitors sigh fondly when the name is mentioned, reminiscing on good times.

It wasn't so inspiring for me, who found it to be just another large city with a bunch of tourists and stinky watercourse running through it. I can see the attraction but am 'templed out', have seen various hill tribes in the recent past and am not keen to lug my pack around trekking, which writes off the main reasons for being there. Still, it has all the mod cons one requires to rest and recharge, so I spent a couple of nights in town planning and preparing for future adventures.

I dossed down at Your House guesthouse, to the north east of the city centre, which is a tidy teak wood establishment with a European-focus and convenient to everything a traveller needs who has recently come in from the wilderness. Such essentials ranged from giant slices of Hawaiian pizza to a book exchange (at Gecko's, who rightly claim to be the best second hand bookshop in Asia) - from a teeth clean at the dentist to new deodorant and munchies from Tescos. And reasonably fast internet at $1 an hour. Maybe it was my own little slice of heaven in some bizarre way...

In the vicinity of the guesthouse (I did not range far), sights such as Si Phum Corner were at hand. There is little left of the bastion these days, but the square layout and the moat remain as evidence of a once formidable fort. Chiang Mai no doubt did its bit throughout the centuries to keep Thailand free of invaders.

Fortress city 700 years ago Explanation, saves me doing it...

Further street roaming uncovered a cute pair of girls in traditional dress taking pictures of each other, who I was happy to assist. For my troubles they suggested I visit a nearby temple with a large jade Buddha called Wat Ou Sai Kham.

Local ladies in traditional costume Intricate corner piece on local temple Patterned umbrella in the sunshine

The Wat is over 300 years old and contains a variety of murals and Buddha images as per your standard temple. The highlight is the 109cm tall statue that apparently weighs about 900 kilos - a lot of Myanmar jade indeed! It's beautifully carved and polished as one would expect and well worth a visit if you're in the neighbourhood as it is a nice change from your standard temple fare. No wonder the monks are quite proud and happy for anyone to visit, view and take photographs.

Serene jade Buddha - nice

The other main highlight was the Night Bizarre. I didn't actually find the central market which is apparently a striking and unusual building packed to the rafters with goods for sale at those 'lucky prices' you come to expect from Asian traders. I settled for wandering the stalls in the streets surrounding it which was more than enough for me. In the end I got so lost in the maze of crooked streets that I found the flower market as well, realised I was so far from home I'd need a tuk-tuk to get back, and so beat a hasty retreat.

Lights on a market stall Flower stall down the road

Finally, I was going to get to a 'real, live' night of Thai boxing matches at the stadium but in the end that wasn't meant to be. I'll just have to satisfy my blood lust watching the competition which involves two Siberians beating each other with frozen fish when I make it up there around Christmas. Should be good.

Next entry -> Luang Prabang, northern Laos.

Technotrekker Travel Technologies

I was going to devote a whole page to explaining how I get the grainy bits of this journal so soft, the pictures so downright sexy and the turns of phrase so crafted that my reportage could be compared to the magnificence of the jade Budhha as highlighted in this very entry. A number of people have asked so an explanation would be interesting, wouldn't it?

Well it seems that I'm going so many places in such very short timeframes these days that I can't quite squeeze it in. Still, it doesn't write itself and if I relied on internet cafes to do all this I would be a very poor and boring traveller indeed, so I might illustrate the technologies a segment at a time I use to bring you such a comprehensive travel blog.

So, first I'd like to introduce the star performer of the ensemble - my Sony PCG-TR3AP.

Sony T series - ultimate portable computing

Such fine lines, such smooth detailing, so little compromise in the room and weight departments. At not much bigger than your average paperback, this 10.6 inch screen mini-laptop is a perfect companion for ultra-portable travel computing, weighing in at less than 2kg (including the long lasting battery). The screen is brilliant for word processing or watching that latest DVD release and 30Gb of hard drive stores all the pictures from this odyssey with relative ease. Operating and graphics memory is suitable for intermediate graphics manipulation and video playback. A built-in CD burner completes the picture.

All in all, a very tidy machine and an integral player in my travel technology suite. Now I just hope that a reader doesn't track me down and mug me for it... You wouldn't do that, would you?
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technotrekker on

Re: Way out of Myanmar

Thought I did explain this but can do again anyway. I left overland over the Tachialek/Mae Sai border crossing in the east of Myanmar/very north of Thailand. It is a pretty easy border crossing as long as you have your papers in order.

Good luck, you'll be fine,

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