A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

NE to Hot Springs, Chiang Rai, White Temple, Black Village

sunny 30 °C

Today we drove ~200 km north and east of Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, stopping at a hot spring on the way, to see the White Temple, a modern artistic, devotional and touristic development, and the Black Village, a reconstruction of ancient buildings and relics in a community setting.
The sulphurous hot springs have been channelled into pools for people to soak their feet and others used to boil chicken and quail eggs for sale.
Wat Rong Khun is a white temple and complex envisioned and funded by the famous Thai artist, Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat. His art is in the traditional Buddhist style, but his paintings inside the temple include modern political figures (George Bush, Osama bin Laden) to caution them to promote a peaceful world, and fantasy heroes (Superman, Captain Jack Sparrow and Harry Potter) to engage kids but make the point that we are all responsible for maintaining good morality in the world.
We enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch at the Rimkok Resort Hotel on the Maekok River in Chiang Rai before continuing on to the nearby Black Village.
The Black Village was created by another Thai artist, Thawan Duchanee, who reconstructed numerous buildings in ancient Thai architecture styles, and displayed artefacts collected from the several eras of Thai culture. The garden-like setting of the village includes many sculptures and beautiful flowers and other native plants.
It had been a long, hot day with 5-6 hours on the minibuses by the time we arrived back in Chiang Mai, with just enough time to recharge for our day of learning traditional Thai massage tomorrow!

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Posted by alangcampbell 05:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School, Wat Chedi Luang Monk Chat

sunny 32 °C

Today we had our second Thai cooking school experience - this one in urban Chiang Mai, a short walk from our hotel, at Asia Scenic with "A", a diminutive, but authoritative and funny young male Thai chef. He equated "spicy" with "sexy" on Thai food culture which made for lots of (intended) double entendres throughout our cooking school day! So..."how sexy you want?" meant "how many chili peppers in your curry paste?". Good cuisine learning and lots of fun as well as a delicious succession of Thai dishes! Our cultural exposure day found balance later with a visit to another of Chiang Mai's many Buddhist temples, Wat Chedi Luang, where we had an hour Q&A with "Ja", a young Buddhist monk, as part of the temple's "Monk Chat" program. He is almost 20, has been a novice monk for 5 years, and plans to remain a monk for a further 3 years before becoming a teacher and rejoining normal Thai society. It was great to have the chance to ask all those things about which we had been wondering as we observed Thai religious life in Chiang Mai (94% of Thais are Buddhist). eg. Q: why do bad things happen to good people? A: karma; they did bad things in a previous life. Okay...an answer, yes, but perhaps no more satisfying than "shit happens"! They also have some philosophical sayings on little signs on the trees near the Monk Chat area - food for thought...

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Posted by alangcampbell 04:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thai Foot Massage, Hmong Village and Doi Suthep Temple

sunny 32 °C

Another full day started early with Thai foot massage at the Chiang Mai Women's Prison Massage Centre. Women inmates are trained in Thai massage in prison and then work at the Centre (near our hotel in the old city) so they have job skills and experience prior to their release. The massage was fantastic! According to the prison supervisor who spoke with us, 80% of the women are in prison on drug charges, and of those who train in massage very few re-offend - a successful program! Then we toured two nearby Buddhist temples in the old city - there are ~100 there in total!
After lunch we went by minibus to a Hmong (hill-tribe) village NW of Chiang Mai with two local guides. Living at 1500m, instead of their former opium crop they now grow coffee, vegetables and maintain a beautiful floral show-garden in return for Thai citizenship and services for their community.
On the way back to Chiang Mai we visited the extensive Doi Suthep temple complex, 360 stairs up from the road, a working Buddhist reliquary and temple since 1343, kept in immaculate condition with many ornate stupa, chapels, bells, Buddha figures and and other monuments with incredible views to Chiang Mai on the plains below.
Dinner at an old city restaurant near the Ta Phae gate capped off another great day in Northern Thailand!

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Posted by alangcampbell 06:22 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Thai Farm Cooking School, Sunday Walking Market

sunny 32 °C

We spent most of today at the Thai Farm Cooking School, on an organic farm in rural Chiang Mai [www.thaifarmcooking.net/home/#.VMUBpuAAA].
We stopped enroute at an early morning market to see how people shop for their Thai food ingredients, and then the companion planting of herbs, fruit and vegetables on the farm itself: basil, galangal, ginger, turmeric, kaffir lime, eggplant, chili peppers, lemongrass, onions, long beans, shallots , starfruit, mango, papaya etc. Our group instructor, "Ning", an irrepressible young Thai woman who called us all "honey", put us through our paces at our cooking stations preparing 5 different Thai dishes we had preselected - we even managed to eat most of them for lunch and snacks! It was fun, though some of us definitely have more potential with Thai cooking than others!
When we got back to our hotel the Sunday Walking Market was setting up all around us - it covers the equivalent of at least 20 city blocks filled with vendors of everything you can imagine, and a huge crowd "walking" through it all, enjoying the ambiance, handcrafted items, food and performers! It goes on till midnight apparently, but we covered half of it and decided to quit for the day - an early start tomorrow at the Chiang Mai Women's Prison Massage Centre for Thai massage!
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Posted by alangcampbell 06:35 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

Visit to COSA, Cultural Centre and Ping River Dinner Cruise

sunny 30 °C

A busy day in and around Chiang Mai, but the highlight was definitely the group visit to the Childrens Organization of Southeast Asia (COSA) just outside Chiang Mai. 27 girls (ages 7-17) from northern hill tribes who are at risk of sexual exploitation live here while they go to school and are helped to get their official Thai ID so they can have a safer, better life. Their families and communities support their involvement and they become role models for other girls when they return home. We had brought craft materials and they had a great time making decorative hairbands, bracelets etc. Lunch and singing together capped off a moving experience for us all. Check out http://cosasia.org/. Later we went through the Chiang Mai Cultural Centre, and then enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Ping River, but the girls and the efforts being made to stop sexual trafficking in Thailand by NGOs like COSA made the biggest impression on all of us.
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Posted by alangcampbell 06:22 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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