There are countless temples in Chiang Mai but other than stopping for the infrequent picture, I had not actually visited one until today. Instead of going to the most famous, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or the oldest, Wat Chiang Man, I went to the lesser-known, Wat Umong, or Tunnel Temple.
Unsure of visiting hours, I went directly to the tunnels, figuring I could wander around the grounds afterwards. The tunnels are fairly wide, offer plenty of headroom, and it only takes a few minutes to walk through them all. While not massively impressive, I enjoyed the uniqueness and simplicity. It was nearly impossible to get a decent photo with my little Nikon, though.
Outside, there are various moss covered statues and a collection of Buddha heads.
As it turns out, the mound did not exist naturally, but rather was built for the construction of the tunnels. It it said, it was designed to help prevent a well regarded but eccentric monk from wandering off. It is not said, if it worked.
From there, I made my way to the top of the mound. (I’m obviously still finding it all rather charming.)
From the top, I could see a bridge that I thought would lead me to the “zoo” area. On the way to the walkway, things got weird.
In addition, there are random signs posted hither and nither. Was it Buddha that said to “cut yourself some slack”? Do you see the wisdom in knowing “The mad dog hates water; the sex crazy man hates Dhama.” WTF?!?
In the end, I decided not to cross Pigeon Dropping Bridge to go feed the fish and turtles. I was sweaty, already covered in mosquito bites, and the swarm lingering and attracting the dragonflies was just deterrent enough… this plaque didn’t help much either. All in all, Wat Umong is a rather unique place and the spirit of the eccentric monk still seems to linger.