Finally, In Chiang Mai.
Trip Start Mar 24, 2010
15Trip End Mar 29, 2010
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Arrived in Chiang Mai International Airport at 0930 Thai local time. After the Immigration clearance, walked out as was greeted by my tour guide and driver. Pretty nice van which they have provided for the price I payed.
Check In To Star Hotel, Chiang Mai
Then we went to the hotel for check in. The hotel is not very far from the airport and I arrived at the hotel at 0945. The tour guide assisted me with the check in. The hotel is a little tucked in and looks run down from the outside but once inside, its like the other side of the coin. Extremely cosy and great. Location wise, is great as well as it is located parallel to the Chiang Mai night market where walking to this place is just 3 minutes away. Also, this place is close to my short meeting which I have this morning with my prospect client which is at the Prantip IT Mall. The rooms are good, clean and safe. This is a no nonsense hotel which is something I liked more about this hotel.
Pantip IT Mall, Chiang Mai
At 1030, after a short rest, I walked to my meeting place with the prospect at the Mall which was just 5 minutes away. Finished the meeting at 1200. Then I just walked around the IT Mall and was told that there is a food court on the fourth floor of the Mall. I went there and it was a coupon system Mall whereby I would need to buy the coupons and then proceed to the counter. I had a major communication issue here as no one was able to speak english and sign language did not work that well. I left the mall thinking of finding a suitable place to have dinner outside the Mall.
When I reached the main entrance, i saw a Wat just across the street and went there just to visit the place and capture some photographs. After walking around the place, there was a small stall under a tree next to the Wat (temple) where the lady spoke good english and there were many people having their lunch there. I decided just to try lunch there.
Told her to make something nice, of course I couldn't choose from the menu as I did not know what the menu was altogether. He he he. So she made me a dish of white rice with pork and a vegetable. I have never tried the vegetable before anywhere even in Malaysia. The taste was good and above that I ordered a coke as well. In total, my lunch cost me 35 Baht. Pretty cheap compared to Malaysia. Then at 1300, I walked back to the hotel as I was told by my guide to meet at the hotel lobby at 1400. Just rested in the room for a while.
Doi Suthep Temple
At sharp 1400, the guide called me from the lobby and I went down. Our first destination was Doi Su Thep Temple. I was informed by the guide that luckily I came this time of the year as this is a low season period. I was told that there is 3 seasons in Chiang Mai; now to July is summer, august to october is rainy season and november to february is winter which is the peak season. Thinking to myself, winter would have been nice too. The good side of it was that I just pay usual prices and not peak season prices at this time of the year.
The road leading to Doi Su Thep was extremely winding. Make sure if you get road sick, please bring some spare plastic bags...just in case. Went up using the tram. I decided not to climb up the fleet of 300 stairs to the Temple. There was some restoration work happening during my visit to the temple. The tram ride cost 30 Baht both ways. After walking around the temple, in one hour I came down. The journey down, I decided to use the stairs. Nice view from the temple. On a clear day, you could get the entire Chiang Mai view from the temple.
Along the way to the temple from Chiang Mai, there are many other places which you could visit. Actually, if you are a nature enthusiasts, you could spend an entire day there. There are lots of waterfalls, National Parks, Animal Observation Points, Chiang Mai Zoo and many more. I was informed that Chiang Mai Zoo has the longest under water world in Asia...even longer then that of Kuala Lumpur and Sentosa Island in Singapore. Total length was 133 metres. There is also a pair of Panda's which is the highlight of Chiang Mai Zoo, along with their 10 month old baby. Driving along Chiang Mai, you would pass the old city where you could see the City Walls...some what similar to the Great Wall of China. Where, the entire city is kept within the city walls. This was built during the war period between Thailand and Myanmar. Then back to the hotel at 1630.
Below is a short account of the Doi Suthep Temple:
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is a Buddhist Temple in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. The temple is often referred to as 'Doi Suthep' although this is actually the name of the mountain which it is located on. The temple is located 15 kilometers from the city of Chiang Mai and is a sacred site to many Thai people. From the temple, impressive views of Chiang Mai can be seen and it remains a popular destination for foreign tourists.
History - The original founding of the temple remains a legend and there are a few varied versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first chedi was built. Over time, the temple has expanded and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines added. A road to the temple was first built in 1935.
White Elephant Legend - According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera form Sukhothai had a dream. In this dream, god instructed him to go to Pang Cha and is said to have founf a bone, which many claim was Buddha's shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers; it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move itself and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dharmmaraja who ruled Sukhothai then.
The eager Dharmmaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However, the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relics authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.
However, King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom, heard of the relic and offered the monk to bring it to him instead. In 1368 with Dharmmaraja's permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in Northern Thailand. The relic apparently split in two, one piece was the same size and the other was smaller than the original. The smaller piece of the relic was enshrined at a temple in Suandok. The other piece was placed by the King on the back of a white elephant which was released into the jungle. The elephant was said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at the time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), trumpeted three times before dying on the site. This incident was interpreted as a divine sign and King Nu Naone ordered a construction of a temple at the site.
Wat Doi Suthep - The Wat can be reached by road form Chiang Mai. From the car park at the temple base, visitors can climb 309 steps for free to reach the pagodas or there is a tram service going up. Entry to the temple on the tram costs 30 Bahts for foreigners (or 50 Bahts of you would like a two way tram ticket included) but is free for Thai Nationals.
Once inside the temple grounds, visitors must remove their shoes. Visitors must be appropriately dressed. The original copper plated chedi is the most holy area in the temple grounds. Within the sight are pagodas, bells, statues and shrines. Aspects of the Wat is drawn both from Buddhism and Hinduism. There is a model of the Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu God Ganesh. Views of Chiang Mai can be seen on the other side of the temple.
Khantoke Palace Dinner
Just rested a while in the hotel and then got up and got ready at 1830 to leave for the Khantoke Dinner. Left the hotel at 1930 and arrived at the place at 2000. Khantoke means a pallet full of dishes which are served. Here along with the food, there is a cultural show and dances. Must visit place for those going to Chiang Mai. After the dinner, came back to the room at 2115. Originally, I planned to go to the night market today but am pretty tired and decided would go over the next few nights I am here. Moreover, the plan has changed whereby I shall be going to Chiang Rai and Mae Sai tomorrow instead of Day 3 as planned originally. Therefore, tomorrow, the trip is supposed to start at 0630 from Chiang Mai. Slept off at 2300 and told the reception to give me a wake up call at 0500.
A brief write up on Khantoke Palace from their website as follows:
In the olden days of the North, a guest is received and welcomed with utmost respect and honor in the home of the humble host with the preparation of a Khantoke feast. The times have changed, but the spirit of the Northern Tradition lives on....and revisited at the well knows Khantoke Dinners of today.
At Khantoke Palace, the tradition of this graceful entertainment is relived to the heights of its charm. But the important thing is that we took it another step further, and paid close attention to your comforts while you join us for dinner.
More information is available at www.kantokepalace.com/home.php