Even though I had had my fill of Bangkok just days before with Sarah, Joe, and Tanya, I didn’t get a chance to hangout with my friend Peter, who works at Thammasat University. And that’s not a good thing. So I scheduled my flight for a day later and spent some time checking out other parts of town, and an evening with him. First, the university and the library:
Wat Katek, located east of the river in Chiang Mai, was one of the quirkiest places we visited. With its museum and estranged design, it offered a less touristy experience into the heart of town. After visiting, we enjoyed one last night together. This is the last gallery of the visit from the friends of San Francisco. Following, they went back to the USA, and I headed back to Bangkok for one more adventure before heading home.
Looking back on it, Chiang Mai is a really absurd place. There’s mistranslations everywhere. There’s odd stuff everywhere. It’s kind of like going to an antique store: some parts are really beautiful, some parts are just plain old, and some parts are really, really strange.
Following Wat Umong, we had our taxi bring us on up to the fabulous and hilariously tourist-infested Doi Suthep. This is definitely along the lines of Siem Reap in terms of how congested it is. While it’s a mountain, it’s also a temple for the Buddhists, with a ton of regal gold paint that makes it look absolutely stunning. There’s also a little miniature tourism city at the bottom of a hill-tribe-children-laden stairway. The pictures will show you. First, a picture of a Dunkin Donuts that looks like it’s out of the 90s.
One of my favorite wats between Cambodia and Thailand is the reclusive Wat Umong, located in the foothills just beyond the city of Chiang Mai. It’s the type of religious space that feels more like a visit than a tour, because it’s filled with the daily life of monks obviously uncorrupted by the pressures of society. It actually reminded me a lot of the many religious spaces I encountered when visiting Japan years ago. And yet there’s still the Southeastern absurdity around every corner.
After a couple days of peace and rest at Romyen, and our visit to the quirk Horizon place, we relocated into town at the Vingbua Mansion. Less a mansion and more of a ramshackle hotel, Vingbua was at least situated in a curious corner of the city which was devoid of tourism and close to some nice alleys. What begins here is a quirk photographic account of odd adventures out at night in Chiang Mai, which I consider to be what Siem Reap in Cambodia will probably become in 20 years. First, a nice strange advertisement:
Horizon is a strange place right around the corner from Romyen. With a resort, zoo, pool, and endless gardens, it’s a surreal landscape to explore by a bicycle (cruisers, which you can rent at a really cheap price). Tanya stayed out of this one, drawn to her hammock, but we found the experience fantastical.