posted on Saturday, March 08, 2008

Chiang Mai Arrival

Arrived in Chiang Mai after 15 hours train journey in 3rd class...yes there is such thing it is not a typing error! It was so long it put me off thai trains for a little while i think. Saying that the ascetic in me is already contemplating a bus journey to the islands via Bangkok for a sweet total of about 24 hours. Despite feeling obviously tired i made the most of the afternoon and began visiting few temples and walking around the historic town. As expected it is a breath of fresh air compared to Bangkok. Temples are not as grand and rich but the atmosphere is much more relaxed, its size easy to manage by walk and unlike Bangkok, there is a order to things! It has more of an old feel and traditional thai architecture can still be appreciated. Food will have to wait but I am sure that can't be disappointing in Thailand. All over the streets and in the temples the orange colour of the buddhist monks robes always stands out! Also as I found out in Wat Phra Sing, a seminar for young trainees is open and there were children monks in their hundreds, refreshingly still being children at that and chasing each other and playing as best as they could in their clumsy outfit. Everywhere lots of smiles, something one sees a lot in Thailand and is very refreshing. How much buddhism is alive here has surprised me even though I did know a little about it. Deep respect for their religion, their monks and the Royal family is seen all the times and very humbling. Ordinary people folding hands when passing a temple or even the smallest of street shrine or Buddha image or knees down on the pavement offering food to a passing monk doing his alms. All in a very natural, most sincere and effortless way. On the more frivolous my hotel for the next two nights is quite a shocking improvement! It even has a swimming pool that i won't have time to use and a shiny Formula One fan that i can't wait to see rotating above me, overcoming my latest acquired fan phobia with no paparazzi involved!