Chiang Rai, Part One

Friday morning, we had a 7am pickup for a private tour to several Chiang Rai temples. I got up at 6 and got ready, then checked with Domingos to see if he felt well enough to go. Luckily, he was fast on the mend, and although he was pretty low on energy, he was able to come along and enjoy the tour. Our driver and guide, Ken with Pagoda Tours, was right on time and was really wonderful all day. We explained that we were both in recovery, and he made sure we always had water and Sprite, and asked if we needed restroom breaks at every opportunity. His English was excellent, and he was always quick to offer to take photos for us. He really made the day a stand-out, and gave us excellent information on each temple we toured. There were so many great photos from the day that I’m going to have to split the tour over three blog posts!Our first stop was an hour and a half into the drive at a little hot springs area, where you can boil an egg in the hot springs if you’d like (we didn’t). It’s mainly an excuse to shop, eat breakfast, and use the restroom. I managed a fried banana on a stick, but Domingos still didn’t want anything. img_6431

Then we had about an hour and half to our first stop, the Wat Sang Kaew Photiyan. The name translates to mean, “A lotus that sprouted and emerged from the water and emits light like a sparkling gem with brilliant light,” and it comes from a dream the original builder Kruba Ariya Chart had while building it. The Wat is around ten years old and is really something. The sheer scope and extravagance of the project is pretty overwhelming. There are many structures and statues spread out over an 11-acre space. It was planned according to the main religious principles of Buddhism and the strictures of Lanna architecture.

At the front entrance
At the front entrance

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You ring bells as you go up and down the many stairs; it made for a lovely clamor.

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Virtue (white figures) and Vice (black figures) - the Vice statues were drinking, smoking, and one had an iPhone tucked in his back pocket!
Virtue (white figures) and Vice (black figures) – the Vice statues were drinking, smoking, and one had an iPhone tucked in his back pocket!

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Trees filled with 20-baht notes; probably something to do with the new year
Workers filling trees with 20-baht notes; probably something to do with the new year

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A line of monk statues based on real monks - they were eerily lifelike
A line of monk statues based on real monks – they were eerily lifelike

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