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Chiang Mai Report

Old Nov 30th, 2006, 05:53 PM
  #1  
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Chiang Mai Report

We spent Thurs Nov 16 through Sun Nov 19 in Chiang Mai. Since this included a weekend and with the Royal Flora in progress, it was a busy place! There seemed to be much more of a traffic problem than we had seen in Bangkok--but still not a single horn honking. Wish other cities could adapt this Thai/Buddhist philosophy! Here are some highlights in no particular order:

1)Wieng Kum Kam , the first capital of Lan Na which had been buried in a flood in late medieval times, was fairly recently discovered. Excavations were just started in the 1980’s. Temple remains found here so far are similar to those at Sukhothai, but the site is not as large. We toured the site by horse-drawn carriage. A good side trip if you’re interested in Thai history. My husband had picked up a copy of "Wieng Kum Kam, Atlantis of Lan Na" earlier in the trip. This is an excellent history and visitors guide.

2)Royal Flora: Kathie’s suggestion of short visits on several days is excellent. However, the only time we could do it was Sunday morning along with many thousands of others We arrived just before 9am and were there for the opening ceremonies. The lines for the people movers were much too long, so we just walked and walked in the very bright hot sun, seeing as much as we could in the 4 hours we had. I think I’m appreciating the grandeur, scale, and beauty more in the pictures we took than in the actual experience.

3)Maetamann Elephant Camp: First, we rode an elephant for an hour across the river, up a hill, and through the jungle. Not exactly a comfy ride, but pretty countryside and interesting to see how the elephant navigated water, mud, steep slopes, etc. Afterward, there was a show. The elephants did various games and logging exercises. The truly amazing part was the painting. Some of the animals did paintings of flowers and others did paintings of elephants with incredibly good proportions and positioning of all four legs. Much better than I could have done! At the end of the show, the largest one paraded in front of the large tourist crowd with a long stemmed red rose in his trunk, then very gently presented it to ME! I was very touched and sorry I’d fed all the bananas and sugar cane we had bought to the elephant we had ridden. After the show, we had a lovely leisurely 4km float down the river on a bamboo raft. We stopped nearby for a great outdoor lunch buffet at an orchid farm.

4)Night Market: We first went on Thursday night and I pretty much hated it. We walked by the booths along the street in a mob scene of people, and most of the stuff for sale seemed pretty junky. Then we went back Sat night and had an entirely different experience. Then we focused on the areas away from the street back in the mall-like parts. Here it was uncrowded with nice breezes and many beautiful crafts and shops.

5)Wat Chedi Luang and Mahamakut Buddhist University: We saw a large group of monks chanting here and admired the huge ancient Chedi (pagoda) which is said to contain original relics of Buddha (ashes). There was a bucket/cable system so anyone could haul some water up to the monument top and pour it over the relics of Buddha. An artist in this area was doing beautiful oil paintings of orchids and other flowers. Here we also participated in an interesting “monk chat”..

6)Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: We were there on a Saturday morning as were MANY others. Most seemed to be Thais worshiping and doing the 3 walk-arounds carrying flowers and incense. Very beautiful and the stairway is amazing.

7)Huay Kaew Waterfall: This is in the national park on the way to Doi Suthep and a pleasant place for a hike. There are several picturesque bars and restaurants with overlooks.

8)Umbrella Making Center: The women using the knives to make the frames were fascinating to watch. I wouldn’t have any fingers left after 10 minutes of that! The umbrellas were beautiful, but many people were also getting the artists to paint nice designs on their purses and backpacks.

9) Orchid Jade Factory: This is just past the bottom on the great staircase on Doi Suthep, and one of my favorites. The lovely lady who is one of the owners showed us a film on jade around the world then spent a lot of time entertaining and educating us with stories of her buying trips to Burma. We visited the artisans doing incredible work behind the showroom and met the man who carved the latest version of the Emerald Buddha. It was presented to the King for his 50th anniversary on the throne. He said it was too fine to keep and presented it back to Chiang Mai on it’s 700th anniversary and is now in Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Angelyn is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2006, 07:41 PM
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Join Date: May 2003
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Thanks for the in-depth and interesting report, Angelyn. I'm going in Feb. Where did you stay? Did you wish you were off the elephant? I'm not sure my arthriticky bones could take an hour of bumping around! Looking forward to the painting, and of course the whole experience of ChiangMai.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:13 PM
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Thanks for your report. The traffic in CM was bad and Doi Suthep was very crowded. I know some of it was due to Royal Flora, but I wonder how much.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 10:53 PM
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There was a time when I spent about one week every month in Chiang Mai on business. Back then (10 years ago) it had a true 'rush hour' in the morning and evening, when traffic would be pretty bad for an hour or so and then go back to normal.

When I was last there before the flower show opened (September?), traffic was bad, but not nearly as bad as Bangkok. I could still get anywhere I wanted to go in five minutes.

The worst part about CM traffic is that they don't like to stop for pedestrians. A few years ago they installed stop lights for pedestrian crossings on Tapae Road (and others) but I've noted that a lot of drivers still won't stop for a red light. They just zoom on through.

Wiang Kum Kam is a nice side trip more for the atmoshpere than for the historical significance, although Wat Chedi Liam is quite pretty and unusual. BTW, most archeologists doubt that the city was ever a capital of Lanna. That's just marketing hype to get people to visit.

HM doesn't keep ANY of the gifts given to him by his people. They're always returned for display somewhere. If you find the right building in Vimanmek mansion, there's a whole house full if things given to the king by world leaders on the 50th anniversary of his coronation.
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 05:51 PM
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The worst part about CM traffic is that they don't like to stop for pedestrians. A few years ago they installed stop lights for pedestrian crossings on Tapae Road (and others) but I've noted that a lot of drivers still won't stop for a red light. They just zoom on through.

I think few drivers know that they are meant to stop!

On normal days we expect some congestion in town for a couple of hours morning and evening -- particularly bad by the "better" schools. However since the Royal Flora opened it has been much worse! Roll on February.

Song Kran can also produce monumental traffic jams as half of Bangkok seem to be here.

Even so, it is much better than Bangkok where I would only schedule two appointments a day.
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Old Dec 5th, 2006, 03:30 PM
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Carrabella,
We stayed at the Lanna Palace. It was fine but with a city hotel feel rather than unique Thai atmosphere like some of the other places we stayed. We had a huge corner room with city views in two directions. There was a coffee/tea maker, mini bar, safe, hair dryer, etc. There was a nice big lobby and breakfast room/restaurant, a dreary pool area, and a pleasant outdoor bar area. It's a moderate walk or quick tuk-tuk from there to the Night Market. One morning there was a beautiful wedding taking place there.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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Thanks, Angelyn
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