Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The temple on the mountain
Then we headed out onto one of the main roads to negotiate a price with a driver of one of the many red taxis for a return trip up the mountain. The red taxis are shared taxis that drive people around the city, as the buses in Chiang Mai are pretty much non-existent. They are utes (pick up trucks) with walls on the sides, a roof, and two benches as seats. They are called songtaews in Thai. A very convenient form of transport, although not the most comfortable, haha. Especially taking into account the many twists and turns up the road to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. By the time we reached the temple I was feeling a bit queasy.
Luckily, I had plenty of fresh air to breath in as we made our way up the 306 step staircase to the temple. By travelling just a short distance of about 15km outside of the city we noticed just how bad the air pollution was inside Chiang Mai cit centre.
I was surprised, and a little disappointed, that as we approached the temple in our songtaew, I saw many shops and stalls selling things right below the staircase of the temple. It is a bit sad that this sacred site has become a bit of a tourist trap, but I guess we should be lucky that they have opened it to the public.
I can only imagine how majestic and peaceful the temple once was, having been constructed on the mountain in 1383.
The terrace at the top of the stairs is beautiful, it is filled with fruit trees, gorgeous pink blooms, giant bronze bells, and holy shrines. Before entering the temple you must remove your shoes, and once you are inside there are signs reminding you to be quiet. These, however, are mostly ignored, and there is a low level of chatter and camera shutters clicking. Golden bells gently sound in the breeze, and people leave lotus flowers next to the shrines surrounding the golden chedi.
Walking around to the other side of the terrace, we took in the view of the city of Chiang Mai. Charlotte had her picture taken there by some enthusiastic Chinese tourists.
We finished walking around the terrace as the sun was dipping low in the sky, casting a golden glow on the colourful temple buildings.
Despite the bumpy ride up the mountain, it was worth the trip, to see the panoramic view over Chiang Mai and to visit the city's holiest temple.
I hope you enjoyed reading :)