Welcome back to Part 2 of my Thai adventures!
Find Part 1 here, if you haven’t already.
Yeah, yeah, it’s been a while. Again. BUT! This is the last post in this series, so I get to put it off and be sad about it as much as I like.
Why is this the last post? Well, after Thailand I left Asia and flew back to Europe. Also I am running out of free media space (follow my new blog here: https://yoursjulie.blog).
When I got off that night bus a bit cranky and crumpled, I took a taxi to the north of Chiang Mai’s city center and checked in at the lovely Banilah Hostel (say: Bah-nigh-lah). More a hotel than a hostel, we found it to have superb value for money.
The hostel is owned by a team of three young women who were just the sweetest, most accommodating and helpful hosts. I received a color-coded map of Chiang Mai, which was marked live in front of my eyes in 12 colors while I was talked through all the important sights and sites. It may sound weird, but that was a seriously impressive experience.
I had my first meal in the lovely garden of a vegetarian restaurant called Imm Aim. Their meat-less Pad Thai is delicious.
Imm Aim also had a few souvenirs and I bought some curry paste(s) to bring home to my friends (especially those who care about organic and eco-certified products).
I then took a walk to Catmosphere, a cat cafe ranked among the top ten things to see and do in Chiang Mai. You take off your shoes, put some disinfectant on your hands and then you get to have coffee and play with te kittehs. Also there’s a chocolate cat haging out on your plate next to your brownie.
I’ve seen these cafes before in Taiwan, but I never went in. It was a bit more depressing than I thought it would be. The 16 or so cats are naturally spoiled with attention and don’t really care that you would like to interact with them. But the brownie was decent and I got to stretch my legs and saw a fair bit of the city.
The next day I took the free bike and explored a few temples.
I’ll try the “Preventing Relatives from Fighting Posture” next Christmas.
There was also a museum with a wax statue of a famous monk and a few interesting photos.
I have no idea what is going on here (please enlighten me in the comments, if you do). That photo was taken at a ceremony for the temple opening, as far as I understood. Unfortunately, there was no further explanation.
Then I moved on to a really pretty smaller temple in the back of the compound…
…where I found a nice local man, who was folding lotus flowers (see the leaves?) as a special offer to the temple and taught me how to do it.
Basically, you take the closed flower, carefully open an individual petal, fold it down once and up again and then gently jam it into the bottom of the bulb so that it will stay in place. There are several ways to do it: The easiest method is to just create even triangles, but our instructor used his mother’s method, which created what I would describe as “elegant swirls”. It was gorgeous!
This was one of these moments when you’re just really, really glad you went on that trip, a special revelation of something you would otherwise have never seen.
We walked around Chiang Mai a bit more, and I have to say I like the city a lot. So many cool things to be found!
This art studio was a real surprise:
And there is some more art in the museum for illusions called “Art in Paradise” (also ranked among the top things to do in the city, so we really had to take a closer look).
Here are a few highlights of the interactive installations:
I had fun there :)
Another very cool and unexpected place is the local reggae bar, called very inconspicuously “THC Rooftop Bar“. I had the most amazing yellow noodles there, the location is very pretty and laid back and the staff are funny and pleasant. A cute little dog may appear on your lap all of a sudden and beg you to tickle his belly. Be prepared.
For the next day I decided to book a tour to Chiang Rai, where the famous white temple is located.
The first stop was at the Black House, which belonged to Thai artist Thawan Duchanee. Let’s say he had an interesting taste.
I would describe it as “Thai Gothic”, the place is full of dead animals or their parts, mostly black and quite eerie.
The owl was alive, though. The house is definitely worth seeing, even if you probably wish to leave again soon.
Then we moved on to the highlight of the entire Thailand trip, the white temple, Wat Rong Khun. Also an art project and scheduled to be a work in progress for another 65 or so years, it was a truly impressive sight. Don’t be fooled by the color, it isn’t any less creepy than the black house.
Here are some impressions:
Tourists can hang out with what seems to be a kind of spiritual Iron Man.
The inside of the temple is also quite stunning:
Check out Kung Fu Panda and Sailor Moon doing their thing.
There are several pop culture icons hidden in the large mural and I found the images of George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden in the pupils of the evil face. Really look at the details if you ever get there, I’m sure the interior will just become more and more interesting.
By the way, this is the toilet:
And there are some understated signs that warn you not to drink or smoke:
Also, Gollum and Hellboy are hanging out in this tree:
You see, the whole thing was not quite what I expected when I heard the word “temple”. Especially since my friends Kati and Karin had been there the year before and never said a word about the special nature of the thing. This place was one of the best and most surprising surprises ever! And a worthy finish.
So, this little blog project finally ends here. From Chiang Mai I took yet another night bus back to Bangkok airport and then I flew to Rome.
I would like to thank you all for reading these tales of mine (or at least scrolling through the photos). Special thanks to my travel companion(s), classmates, teachers, friends and last but not least to my wonderful parents and the rest of my family (who may not particularly enjoy having me run around at the other end of the world, but deal with it anyway… right, Oma?).
My time in Asia was a very special experience and I am grateful I had this opportunity to learn and grow.
IF you want to know what shenanigans I was up to in Italy and back in Germany (and how much buffalo mozzarella you can eat after having lived with serious cheese withdrawal for 10 months), you can keep following me here at my shiny new blog:
See ya and take care! <3