Day 157 - The Amazing Doi Suthep

The day started off with a very happy Kian getting busy with all the new patterned papers we bought the day before at a small shopping center we visited with Miss B.  I really enjoy seeing how much Kian has taken into loving art, from drawing to making crafts.  His interest has definitely influenced Hannah as well, though she doesn't quite have the patience at this point.

Shortly before noon, we left the hotel and headed towards the general taxi area for Doi Suthep.  But first, we decided to grab a light lunch at a nearby restaurant called Mango Tango.  The food and shakes here are really fresh and delicious, and as the name implies, every meal and drink has mango in it.  

Thankfully we had asked Phung about the prices of taxis to Doi Suthep and knew better than spending 800 Thai Bhats (24 USD) for a round trip that our hotel quoted us.  Instead, we took a taxi to the base of the mountain where the temple is situated.  From there, taxis load up 10 people to take them to the top for just 40 Bhats per person one way or 80 Bhats per person round trip.  The taxi drivers try to force you to go on the round trip, but this means rushing once you get to the temple because they only give you 1 hour for exploring before expecting you back in the cab.  

We ended up waiting for almost 20 minutes before 8 other people arrived (we had the kids sit on our laps to avoid having to pay for them).  The ride to the top is really windy, and since the taxi driver felt like he was in some sort of a race up the mountain everyone started to feel queasy! 

Once we arrived at the top, we told the taxi driver that we would definitely not be back in 1 hour, so we got our 80 Bhats back and headed towards the temple.  Everyone told us that we should get the funicular ticket and go to the top to avoid the 100 steps.  The tickets are cheap and the ride is very short.  We decided that we would walk the 100 steps back down to see what they are all about. 

Once at the temple, we were really impressed.  Doi Suthep is definitely the most beautiful and majestic temple we visited the entire time we were in Chiang Mai.

Aside from the amazing structures, all the statues are so detailed and beautiful.

Almost all Thai people who arrive for a visit perform a ritual of going around the Suthep 3 times while praying.  Everyone who visits can also get blessed by a monk.  After spraying holy water on the visitors, they give everyone a thread bracelet.  What I found interesting, and I suppose slightly disturbing, is that only the men could get the bracelet from the actual monk that performed the blessing ceremony.  Women were asked to go to another guy, someone dressed in regular clothes, to get a thread bracelet.  Ummm.....I don't quite understand how women are regarded by monks.  Is it better for them if we just don't exist? 

The kids had a great time at the temple.  Hannah had fun posing in front of different statues while Kian was busy with his camera taking pictures of everything.

The grounds around the temple are also very beautiful and we were lucky to find a few nice people who took family photos.  Thanks strangers! 

Kian then had fun posing his sister in front of the bells for a few pictures.  For some, Hannah cooperated, and for others...well, let's just say she acted like Hannah! : ) 

We were also able to enjoy a few gorgeous flower gardens as we wrapped up our walk around the temple. 

On our walk, we found a couple of things we thought were humorous.  The first one were the statues of 2 dragons by the entrance of a small prayer building.  The dragons were labeled "Mom".  Although I don't know what the actual significance is meant to be, I thought it was funny that there was a happy and an angry mom, and I couldn't resist posing with them! :) 

The next amusing item we found were the signs for the toilets.  Honestly, can someone tell me what is the difference between a woman and a pregnant woman when it comes to using a toilet? 

As I mentioned earlier, we decided to walk down the 100 steps we had avoided on the way up.  I am so glad we did not take the funicular back down because first of all the steps are really not bad at all, and secondly they are full of shops and food stalls that were definitely worth a visit.  We had a great time checking a few out, and I even bought a couple of small things.  We also tried cooked coconut water, which is slightly sweeter than fresh coconut water.  Apparently they boil the coconuts by putting them in the BBQ for a bit, or at least that's what I was told.  

If you are heading to Chiang Mai at some point, make sure you visit Doi Suthep.  It is definitely worth the long, windy drive.  Also make sure you give yourself more than 1 hour to visit the temple.  There is so much to see!  We managed to complete our Doi Suthep trip for a little over 200 Bhats.  Granted we had to wait a bit here and there, but it was still very successful and we didn't fall into the tourist trap of paying 800 Bhats.  Once again, all thanks to our intel provider, Miss B! 

After the temple, we headed to the mall that is attached to our hotel and took the kids to the Kiddy Land area.  This play area includes a bounce house which costs 50 Bhats per kid for 1 hour.  Kian and Hannah had a blast in there.  They did want to go on some of the rides in the arcade section, but because it was getting late we told them that we could likely come back another day.

We grabbed dinner in the mall at a fast food type restaurant called Chester's, and ended our long and eventful day with a few yummy donuts from Mr. Donut. :)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US. Wonder how we will celebrate!