Monday, May 14, 2012

Chiang Mai

After a couple of fast and furious days in Bangkok Supy and I zipped up our backpacks and took to the road. In a first-time-for-everything experience I got to spend the night on my first sleeper train. 

{My bunk}

{Supy across the aisle}

It was a pretty decent experience over all. I love traveling by train. The 12 hour ride that was an additional 3-4 hours late, the French tourists getting their drink on, and the fact that the train swayed significantly at night (making me paranoid I was going to fall off my upper bunk) distracted me a bit from the journey--but not too much.

To top things off, as soon as we got off the train we were in lovely (and warm) Chiang Mai.

{In Chiang Mai temples abound. This is the one that was directly across from our ($12) hotel room.} 

{A banana for each elephant} 

This particular wat (temple) was built during 1296-1297 AD 

{You can buy gold leaf to place on the buddha}

At another temple in town we got a chance to take part in some "Monk Chat." They have a time set up where you can talk with the monks--they get to practice their English and you get to ask them anything you want. We met a nice young Karen monk. We didn't quite muster the courage to ask anything to terribly interesting (like how they get those robes to stay on) but we did learn a bit about the monk life.

They also had a garden with words of wisdom on the trees to aid in enlightenment: 

{One of my favorites}

{A giant stupa}

{Probably my favorite meal of the trip, which included the very best Thai tea I've ever had. The grand total for the meal? One dollar.}

{Temples galore}

{More enlightened words}

While we were in Chiang Mai we also decided we needed to visit the women's prison...for a massage! It sounds a lot sketchier than it was--They have a training program for the women where during the last 6 months before they are released they get to give Thai massages to clients. They receive their earnings to get them back on their feet once they are released. It was a great experience overall (and only set us back about 5 bucks for an hour long massage). The funniest part though was trying to get the outfits they gave us on. Neither one of us could figure out how to tie up the one-size-fits-all pants. Tired, dehydrated, and a little delirious, we couldn't stop laughing about our inability to tie on our giant pants.

To cap off our evenings we hit up the night markets to browse, drink fruit smoothy after fruit smoothy, and eat whatever we came across. 

Chiang Mai just had a good vibe overall. It was a city, for sure, but didn't zoom past you too fast--there was plenty of time for temples, good eats and the slow life.

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