Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Our last day in Chiang Mai was spent at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep which is located on a hill over looking the city. It has been a place of worship for over 1,200 years.

The wat is an active temple that invites people from all over the world to study Buddhism and mediation, for an unspecified fee.

The serpent that I am leaning on is the entrance to the wat. It adds a bit of uniqueness to the temple.

 And so concludes our trip to Thailand, but even at the airport we are reminded of cultural differences. The monks have their own comfy, private waiting area within the airport.

Khan Toke dinner

Fred Sr. and Cherry treated us to a Khan Toke dinner (traditional dinner and Thai dance) for our last night in Chiang Mai. The food was served in large platters and shared by the table (they made us a special vegetarian platter).The dancing was traditional northern Thai from local hill tribe dancers, as well as classical dancers.

This was my favorite dance; very reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast (tale as old as time...).

Chiang Dao Cave

Chiang Dao cave is about an hour from Chiang Mai. The cave is located inside the third largest mountain in Thailand, it penetrates 14 km of the mountain although only certain parts are assessable by tourists, especially those without a guide (like us). Inside the cave are beautiful crystal formations, along with ancient statues.

This is the entrance to the cave.  I have never seen such big fish!

Wat Thaton

During our trip to Northern Thailand we stayed in a small village called Thaton. On the hill above the village Wat Thaton can be seen. It's beautiful roof resembles a faberge egg, and amazingly the inside is just as vibrant as the outside.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Long Necked Karen

The Karen is a small tribe in Thailand, that originated from Burma, and are known for their long necks.  Girls begin putting rings on their necks at 5 or 6, and every year after more brass rings are added. The long necks represent beauty and status.

Golden Triangle

I was excited when I found out that we were going to the Golden Triangle (where the borders of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar meet).  I didn't think we would be going this far North!  The river behind me is the Mekong.  It is the longest river is Southeast Asia, and the 7th longest in the world. The river begins in Tibet from melted glaciers, travels through 5 countries, and then empties into the South China Sea.

From Thailand we took a boat to Myanmar, and then to Laos where we got out and did a little shopping. There is not much to see on the border but shops and kids asking for money, but we were happy to take a ride on the Mekong.

This was one of the items for sale. I bought 5. It is yum-my. Just kidding. Poor snakes!

Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun, also called the White Temple, is located in Chiang Rai (about 3 hours north east of Chiang Mai). The day after our arrival in Chiang Mai we headed up north with Fred Sr. and Cherry. 
The temple is quite a beautiful sight, it is totally white with millions of pieces of glass.

This is Chalermchai Kositpipat, the creator of the temple. He is a famous Thai artist who was able to get his temple started by selling his own paintings. The temple is not complete, and won't be for many decades because Mr. Kositpipat refuses to accept outside money for his creation. His goal is to fund the entire project by himself.

Looks like someone had some nail polish handy. All of these carved hands are at the entrance of the temple, as you walk over the bridge.

The sarong I am wearing was handed to me upon our entrance. At the exit, there was a basket to put it in (so that later some other inappropriately dressed tourist can wear it). :)

This is not a typical temple. It is not a religious site, so there are no monks. There are strange images such as the planters above which are hanging in trees outside; inside there are paintings of superman, batman, and Keanu Reeves in the Matrix (just to name a few).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang was not on the itinerary. Due to the flooding and the fast changing weather I thought it would be better if we stayed close to our departure airport (we flew into Krabi airport but flew out of Phuket). The conditions of the roads can get bad with excess rain and since our flight was in the morning I wanted to play it safe.This was taken from our motorcycle taxi on the way to the resort.

 I found the Nai Yang Beach Resort for a great price online.  
We were pleasantly surprised with the hotel, the location (5 minutes from the airport) and the great weather.

Fred and I went for a long walk and found ourselves surrounded by only local fisherman.

After our walk Fred and I enjoyed fresh cut fruit and some adult beverages.

If you look in the center of the circle you will see the little crab that made this beautiful artwork. I found it interesting that the designs made by the crabs varied at different beaches.

As soon as we sat on these beach chairs we were given a ticket and told we had to pay to sit. It was only a few dollars but other tourists were surprised by this and refused to pay (and sit). We enjoyed the chairs, the umbrellas, and the waiter.  :) 
What a great day at the beach. Thank God it stopped raining!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Diving Phi Phi islands

This was the first day the dive masters have dove for the past 2 weeks. The monsoon weather finally subsided, and the water started to clear up.
We had to take a small boat out to the larger vessel for the 2 hour trip to Phi Phi islands (sometimes written Pee Pee islands, as it is pronounced).

This is one of our dive spots. We saw a seahorse, a cuttlefish, and a sea turtle during our three dives. I was a happy camper, even though the visibility was poor compared to normal Thai conditions.

We received a waterproof bag as a gift from my sister (thanks Raya and Josh!) which came in handy on the dive boat, and due to all the unexpected rain.

Even though it was colder than it should have been during this time of year, and the visibility wasn't super we were so happy to have dove in Thailand!!  What a beautiful trip.