Oh look, another temple! Ken next took us to Wat Haus Pla Kung, a temple with a strong Chinese influence. There was an enormous statue of the (a?) goddess of mercy, visible well before we arrived at the temple. There was a new temple under construction, and we did go look at the old one, which was a unique design compared to the temples we had already seen, but our energy was fading and we did not linger there long.
Next up: finally, we had earned lunch! Ken had some trouble finding a restaurant, as a lot of his regular places were closed for the New Year holiday. He finally found a local roadside restaurant, and sat us down and ordered for us (in Lanna, the language everyone in the north speaks. In general, it seems like northern Thailand still self-identifies more as Lanna than Thai). Ken was able to get a clear broth with noodles for Domingos, and I had a more flavorful broth with noodles, pork slices, and delicious little pork meatballs. The restaurant workers were very friendly and welcoming.
After lunch came our final stop of the tour, Baan Dam, also known as the Black House Museum. Baan Dam is a very unique creation by local artist Thawan Duchanee. It’s an eclectic mix of traditional Northern Thai buildings interspersed with bizarre modern designs. There are many (hundreds? thousands?) of animal skulls, animal skins (crocodile and snake), and buffalo horns, as well as fascinating, macabre, and gruesome art. The complex houses around 40 buildings of various sizes and shapes; some are open to walk through, and some you can only look in the windows.
We happened upon an interesting dance performance and watched for a while, but we definitely didn’t linger anywhere on the grounds as we were beyond ready to call it a day.
Ken drove us back to Chiang Mai, but with holiday traffic it was 6:00 before we were back! He was kind enough to take us straight to Smith Suites to meet my parents, and he waited until he saw them come down to meet us before driving off. He was one of the best guides we’ve ever had, and the day could have been a real failure with someone less thoughtful and flexible.
We had dinner at one of my parents’ favorite restaurants, the Doo Dee. I had a delicious Pad Thai, and Domingos played it safe with a grilled chicken breast. We were very happy to fall asleep early that night!