Saturday, November 19, 2016

Chiang Rai

 Chiang Rai's clock tower

 Wat Phra Singh 

 Wat Phra Kaew 

 Phra Kaew's museum

 The replica of the Emerald Buddha 
 One of Thailands many markets 

On Monday morning we took the long winding bus trip back to Chiang Mai, to catch a bus to our new destination,  Chiang Rai.

According to our Lonely Planet guide book, Chiang Rai is "more liveable than visitable", and that may be so, however we enjoyed our stay there very much.

There is quite a lot to see in Chiang Rai, but most of it is outside the city centre. Nevertheless, on our first day there, Charlotte and I took a walk by ourselves in the city, and did some sightseeing. The most famous and well-visited sight in Chiang Rai is probably the white temple, which I'll write about later. The same artist who created the White Temple also created a masterpiece of a clock tower right in the city centre. The intricately designed golden tower stands boldly out against the bright azure sky. It was such a pleasure to see a beautiful work of art in the middle of the street.

Further along on our walk, we discovered the tourist information office where we picked up a map. Across the street from the information office was Wat Phra Singh, which we walked into next. The temple is one of the oldest ones Chiang Rai, built in the typical Northern Thai style. The main temple building was flanked by colourful flags and lanterns when I visited it.

Nearby to Wat Phra Singh is another temple called Wat Phra Kaew, which is well known in Thailand to be the original home of the famous Emerald Buddha, now housed in Bangkok's Grand Palace. According to the legend,  the Emerald Buddha was discovered there when a bolt of lightening struck the old chedi and cracked open. A replica of the buddha now stands in the solemn temple, which is surrounded either side by a water feature,  and, oddly, many turtles. I'm not sure what the significance of the turtles was, but it was nice to see :)

The temple grounds also house a beautiful museum with stunning relics inside, and outside the gardens are beautifully designed, with orchids and other flowers blooming.

Later on in the day we also walked by a market, and I was reminded that Thailand really does know how to do a good market. It seems that everyone and anyone has their own shop or market stall! They just love to shop.
Tomorrow I will write up a separate post about the White Temple that I mentioned earlier, as it was just spectacular.

I hope you enjoyed reading :)
Hannah xx

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