Monday, February 1st, 2016
We had plans to go out on a little tour today, so we woke up early to get some caffeine in our systems provided by the hostel. I noticed a “Don’t Clean” sign next to the toaster and I pondered, what occurred in the past for that sign to be necessary? Did someone try to wash it in the sink? Did someone electrocute themselves? These are the things that stick with me for senseless periods of time. Clearly, I’m very good at wasting valuable brain power, and I suppose, your time as well. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
Our tour guide’s name was Yaka and he shared that he was descended from the Lahu tribe that fled from Tibet during the war. He was born in Thailand, but both of his parents were from China. He was reserved and soft-spoken, but very genial. He also seemed to really dig 90’s pop hits and boy bands which we listened to throughout our journey.
We rode along in his truck passing many rice fields and a ginormous Singha Beer statue on our way to the White Temple. As we approached it, we walked by the surrounding buildings which were all decorated with signed donation charms.
Yaka took us to the fountain of holy water and encouraged us to throw coins from our horoscope signs, which were located around the inside perimeter of the fountain in gold. If you were able to get your coin to the bowl in the center, you would have good luck. It took Trevor three tries. I got it in the first shot. All my luck is generally bad, but we’re competitive, so I celebrated with a happy dance. Trevor was not amused.
The outside of the White Temple was absolutely stunning! I was in awe with the decor and the amount of detail that went into building it. Yaka informed us that a local artist created the temple in honor of the 9th monarch of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was still ruling at the time of our visit.
The inside of the temple was absolutely not what I expected… at all! Sadly, cameras weren’t allowed inside. If you would rather find out for yourself, feel free to skip ahead. I guess I was expecting it to be either as decorative as the outside, or as barren as the inside of the Taj Mahal.
I kid you not, the inside was a very intense and detailed mural of the most peculiar and outlandish kind. There were paintings of super heroes, cartoon characters, even Keanu Reeves as Neo from “The Matrix” and Elvis! Some of them were fighting off evil demons. The likes of Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush were depicted in the demon’s eyes in the mural, funny enough. There were also carriages sending people off to Nirvana.
The inside of the temple wasn’t the only oddly placed design. Some other things around the premises were ghoulish heads hanging from trees and a shiny robot sitting on a bench.
Yaka would be taking us to a few other sights around Chiang Rai, but I’ll save that for next time.
To be continued…
Jump Back to Part 5: More Cats, A Peter Fondler & Heavenly Soup
Jump Ahead to Part 7: Bearded Buddha, Jungle Tea & Bamboo
Start from the Beginning at Part 1: Mumbai to Chiang Mai