© 2012 monica Waterfall

Saying Goodbye to Chiang Mai

This is a lot harder that I thought it would be.  We’ve spent 2 and a half weeks here and I feel like I’m leaving behind a good friend.  We were told that we would like it here, what we didn’t realize was how much.

Yesterday we spent the day on our little scooter winding our way up a mountain to see first hand one of the most sacred temples in all of Thailand.  Even though it was threatening to rain all morning we packed our plastic 20 cent panchos and started the 30 minute trip.  It was unfortunate to see the base of the temple completely overtaken with gaudy tourist shops but I did enjoy seeing all the different fruit being sold.


I had read about the 308 steps to the temple Phrathat Doi Suthep but what I didn’t take into account was the change in elevation and our serious shortness of breath…or maybe we’re a little out of shape.  Either way we weren’t the only ones taking mini breaks up the stairs.

The Wat (temple) was gorgeous.  We dutifully took off our shoes and began exploring all of the different Buddhas, there seemed to be hundreds.  It was so calming to watch the different Thai Buddhists praying at the various alters.  We even had the opportunity to watch a monk bless a family.

Now a little bit of history:

The temple is said to have been founded in 1383.

The White Elephant Legend was something I had read about before going to this temple & I think it’s worth sharing.

According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera from Sukhothai had a dream; in this vision he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and is said to have found a bone, which many claim was Buddha’s shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers; it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move itself and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dharmmaraja who ruled the Sukhothai.

The eager Dharmmaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic’s authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.

However, King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom heard of the relic and offered the monk to take it to him instead. In 1368 with Dharmmaraja’s permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in northern Thailand. The relic apparently split in two, one piece was the same size, the other was smaller than the original. The smaller piece of the relic was enshrined at a temple in Suandok. The other piece was placed by the King on the back of a white elephant which was released in the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at the time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), trumpeted three times before dying at the site. It was interpreted as a sign and King Nu Naone ordered the construction of a temple at the site.

After a delicious cool coffee we began our descend. We had seen signs for a waterfall on the way up to the temple and decided to check it out on our way home.  It cost 220 Baht for us to see the most beautiful Doi Suthep Pui waterfall.  The private road that led to the waterfall was one of the most beautiful I have seen in Thailand.  The vegetation was breathtaking and the temperature was perfect for a joy ride through the twisting road.

To my surprise Oscar stopped the bike at the beginning of the trail and asked for me to take a picture of him…he then handed me the key to the moped and began to explain how to accelerate and brake.  It was the perfect place for me to learn how to drive a moped…there wasn’t a soul within 5 miles.

 

After safely arriving to the small campsite we parked and began the short walk to the waterfall.  There appeared to be a girl/boy scout camp going on near the waterfall.  There were about 100 little ones running around different obstacle course in adorable uniforms.  With their faces painted, some barefoot, and all with grins from ear to ear.  Different groups went alternating between jumping into the small pool at the base of the waterfall.

We had a wonderful photo shoot.  You’ll see a small portion of it below ;)  It was nice to be in natural beauty surroundings compared to the city life we have been experiencing and we couldn’t get enough.

A. Great. Day.