OK today is temple time for Chiang Mai Day #3 Kennett’s Tour. We had pre-booked Mr Kim again, as he really is a top bloke. Off to the mountains today for an adventure, with the key item to explore being Wat Prathat Doi Suthep Rajvoravihara (wow, say that after a few Singha’s). This is a mountain top Buddhist Wat (temple), and is flocked to by tourists, and you will see why shortly.
First up we have to leave the hotel, and Mum asks Jude and I to collect her hat from the room. So Jude did. Hey Senor!
About a 40-50 minute drive to get to the temple, as it is up and up and up, and weave, weave, weave. The amazing thing on the way up is that there are countless old Thai guys cycling it, as our jeepni is struggling and straining, they pedal on relentlessly. Mr Kim stopped about half way up at a vantage view point to show off his city, that he is very proud of. Have a look below, I think this is why Chiang Mai Day #3 Kennett’s Tour, will end up reaching double digits one day. It is such a wonderful place.
Daddy-pedia time. The original founding of the temple remains a tad myth and legend, with a few versions of the potential truth. Some say the wat was originally founded in 1383 when the first stupa was constructed. Over time, of course, the temple was further expanded, and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines and way more gold. The first and only road to the temple, the steep one we drove up, was first constructed in 1935.
More Daddy-pedia, for Chiang Mai Day #3 Kennett’s Tour, according to legend, the monk above, named Sumanathera had a dream one night. In this dream he was told to go to Pang Cha and search for a relic. He traveled to Pang Cha and found a single bone. Many claim it was Buddha’s shoulder bone. It apparently had magic powers: it glowed, it could vanish, it could move about and copy itself. He took the relic to, the then, King Dhammaraja, who ruled Sukhothai. The King made offerings and hosted a ceremony when the monk arrived. Strangely the relic displayed no magic, and the King said to the monk you keep it.
King Nu Naone of another province, Lan Na, heard about this and asked the monk to visit. In 1368 the monk took it to what is now known as Lamphun, in Northern Thailand. The relic broke in two when it arrived. A small piece was put in to a temple in Suandok, and the larger bit was placed on the back of a white elephant by the King, and he then released it to the jungle.
Apparently that elephant climbed up the mountain to Doi Suthep, stood still, trumpeted 3 times and keeled over dead. Hey presto the King thought, well that’s clearly a sign and immediately ordered the construction of the Wat. How about that! The white elephant legend.
Now this will freak out the Brits reading this. Remember white elephant stalls when we were kids? Did you ever think that that term came from Thailand, actually the days of Siam? Woudl you ever! The term refers to an extravagant but burdensome gift that cannot be easily disposed of, based on the legend of the King of Siam giving away rare albino elephants to members of his court that had pissed him off, and they might be made bankrupt due to the animals upkeep costs.
A “white elephant sale” sells items that retain some value but have no intrinsic use; items are often referred to as, yep you got it, white elephants. As a Cub Scout aged 8, I had no idea about that – did you?
We need lunch now and Mr Kim has an idea. But first up we are to see a lovely little waterfall where he takes his kids of a weekend. Huai Keaw Waterfall. No tourists, as to be honest it is bloody hard to find. Just down from the zoo. Again more reason not to use tour buses and go with a local, and see the local things. Much better in my book!
And then Mr Kim takes us to an amazing place for lunch – Muan Huay Keaw Restaurant. If you get a chance make sure you go. In fact they are looking for someone to partner them or buy them out right now. I suggest you call them to allow them to give your driver directions, it is a little off the beaten track. Off the main road, down a side road, in to a small street, park, and walk down a back-alley – but then hey presto! +66 (0) 5389 2698, 31/2 Moo 2 Tambon Suthep, Srivichai Road, near Huai Keaw waterfall, Muang District.
We are going to give you a major 4+ out of 5, Muan Huay Keaw Restaurant. Our lunch was exceptional thank you. The restaurant itself was a stand out for the look and feel and surrounding country-side. Unique I have to say. Loved it. And then the food, BOOM. Apart from a wee slip up for the wife, I’d give you top marks. Exceptional food. If we come back, we will be back absolutely!
Slow drive home, chillax in the room and hey presto we’re ready to eat again. Man have we eaten on this holiday! In to a tuk tuk and off we go to The Service 1921, but bugger it is booked solid, so I book for tomorrow for dinner. We have to try this place. Shit where now? As we walk up, I remember the tuk tuk driver from the night before saying you must try The River Market, it’s really good.
And finally a short video clip up at the Wat. The truly incredible scenery and view from the top (no wonder the white elephant chose to come up here), and the kids going Quasimodo on us with the bells, the bells.
So there you have it folks, Chiang Mai Day #3 Kennett’s Tour. What an absolutely cracking day thanks to our mate Mr Kim. Some finds and experiences we would never have had on a normal organised tour. Call out would be temple, and lunch – memories that will never be forgotten, and will be recommendations for any that visit this beautiful city. You simply must try these two and it is perfect to do in one day, oh yeah and you get to see the rather beautiful waterfall too (bring swimmers and get in the water too). If you do come and you do try I am 100% certain that you will indeed – ENJOY!!!