Charlotte

At the graduation ceremony, I was wondering if Charlotte was the class valedictorian or a student that held some similar type honor. Silly me. “Charlotte” was the graduating class’ “word”. It sorta, kinda means free. Even if you accepted that explanation, it was still weird seeing Charlotte everywhere.

Funny

As I was walking to my classroom in the high school, I got quite a giggle when I spotted this. I’m beginning to wonder if moving to the 11th grade was such a good idea.

On that note, I am Charlotte for the next 6 weeks and will cross that bridge when I return. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Feels Like Home

I may be 9,000 miles away but I generally feel at home on a trail.

The signs and markers may be a little different but the sights and sounds are familiar.

Random

The occasional Buddha head floating in a tree is a not so subtle reminder, I am not.

Chiang Dao Cave Lover or Lamer

After learning that the trail we were planning to hike was closed, we made our way to the Chiang Dao Cave at Wat Tham. I’d visited once during the rainy season but the cave was closed and it wouldn’t stop raining enough to enjoy fully exploring the grounds. There was a drastic difference between then and now and this time, the cave was open.

Since it was hot and dry, the water features were particularly appreciated.

Upon entering the cave, there are a few small shrines. There is a natural skylight so visibility is fine in this area.

Technically, the cave is a network of over 100 caves that extend about 8 miles into the mountain. Only a small area is open to the public and a portion of that only with a guide. The guide carries a kerosene lantern and takes you into a few unlit sections. Looking back, I’m not quite sure how I squeezed through the opening on the left. Most of the guides were about the size of my 10 year old students so they managed easily.

The guide pointed out different natural formations that resembled animals, crystals and of course, stalactites and stalagmites but my favorite feature was the floor. The guide was tickled that I enjoyed what she referred to as a tour with “foot spa”. I also liked one of the reclining Buddhas but mostly because it resembled Yoda. My mini Nikon was unable to capture much with any clarity so I can’t share the other shrines or the bat covered ceiling.

Outside, I wondered who would carve statues where a perfectly good route could have been bolted. The poor things are fairly neglected as well.

Last time, the 25 top pagoda was moss covered and the path up the hill completely overgrown.

No temple post is complete without Naga and signs.

Chiang Rai High

Upon arriving in downtown Chiang Rai, my first thoughts took me back to the White Temple and its homage to whisky. Point taken.

The designer of the White Temple also constructed the Golden Clock Tower to provide the city some architectural significance. Directed to come by here while searching for mango with sticky rice, I happened to learn that it features a light and music show at 9 pm.

Nosing around the area by the homestay, I spotted these.

Our room had an en suite bathroom, albeit outdoors. While on the subject, there is an elaborate collection of tabos in Thawan Duchanee’s toilet.

I was able to peruse his facilities while wandering the grounds of Black House, his museum-like collection housed in 40 or so structures in a garden setting. I most enjoyed his Darth Vader-ish self-sculpture and coveted his over-sized black leather purses. He is also from Chiang Rai, which made me wonder about the water.

While Chiang Rai is a destination for many tourists, we were only passing through on our way to/from Phu Chi Fa. Should you Google the name of the forest park, you will see stunning sunrise views of the mountain scenery overlooking the Laos-Thai border. Normally, an entire post would be devoted to Phu Chi Fa. We were not so fortunate. After rising about 4:30 am, we hopped on our scooters and headed to the base. From the parking area, it’s about a half mile walk to the top. Despite being early, the trail was rather crowded. Once I found a good spot, I curled myself into a ball and tried to keep warm until the sun rose. Despite a promising start, the fog kept rolling in too thick to see anything besides hundreds of people taking selfies with a blank background. Eventually, the call of hot drinks and warm beds grew too strong to resist and we headed back to town.

No road trip is a loss, though, as I always enjoy the rides and the recuperative massages I treat myself to afterwards. While it is burning season and quite dry, it’s also time for strawberry picking and we saw lush fields for days. We stopped and sampled a few as well.

singha

Whereas I did not sample the Singha at Boon Rawd Farm as we had a long drive ahead of us.

White Temple Wonders

As final exams and year end approach, I’ve had more and more free time to wander and explore. Conversely, due the death of the laptop and limited free media space on the blog, I’ve fallen behind posting glimpses of my life in Thailand. I shall attempt to get caught up before my next big adventure.

I thought I’d come not to have expectations of temples but I found being greeted by skulls and Pinhead at the White Temple in Chiang Rai admittedly flustering.

The hands of desire and even the all-white ubosot distracting.

The many faces of Hell somehow more daunting, especially on feet.

The tree of wishes was certainly more pleasing,

the silver Buddha more soothing, and the view from the ubosot more calming.

love

I was feeling sorted until I entered the gallery and came across this painting titled “Love”.

The artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat certainly has a unique point of view and his works can lead to interesting conversations. Superheros and space cadets… what’s not to love.

High Noon in Lamphun

single-file

I want to recognize those responsible for forging the trails I ride.

As we rode up to them, they started trampling bushes to get away. We stopped on the far left of the trail to let them pass and they gave us a wide berth moving in almost single file.

I found myself back in Lamphun this weekend. A 40 mile ride took us along 3 reservoirs, Mae San, Thi, and Tueb. Thanks to the unseasonable rain we had in January, they were still fairly high. As the temperature creeps back into the 90’s, water releases will likely start soon. I couldn’t figure out what the sign was restricting… don’t eat fat fish?

Its not bad yet, but you can start to see the effects of burning season. Currently, the numbers are bordering good to moderate. I’m not looking forward to it jumping up to the 100’s but for now there are still visible mountains in the horizon and it’s not China.

police-station-ban-thi

I thought this statue in front of the Ban Thi Police Station was… odd, but I felt safe parking the truck there.