We started off our first full day in Chiang Mai with a visit to Wat Phra Singh, which is one of the main temples in the city. Our hotel was pretty much right in front of it, so it was an easy one to visit!
The entrance to one of the temple buildings had some cool golden dragon statues. The first photo is obviously the best because it has Dylan in it, but you can see in the second photo that the statue is actually a dragon coming out of another dragon mouth. Dylan thought these were pretty cool.
The inside of the building had a big, gold buddha. It also had wax statues of monks that were pretty creepily life-like.
The main building contained a small, but very cool looking emerald buddha. We also saw some older monk statues that were not made out of wax.
After Wat Phra Singh, we stopped by a local shop that sold bus tickets, with the intention of buying our bus tickets to Chiang Rai for the following day. When we were planning the trip, we saw that a bus left from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai about fifteen times a day, so we figured that getting tickets a day in advance would be fine... Turns out that we would have been fine with that strategy, except for the fact that we needed to get from Chiag Mai to Chiang Rai on a Saturday. We learned that a lot of people work in Chiang Mai during the week, but then take the bus to Chiang Rai to be with their families on the weekend. All of the bus tickets were completely sold out!
At this point, we had to figure out a different way to get to Chiang Rai. We did some research online and talked to the staff at our hotel and discovered that our worst case scenario was to take a private taxi between the two cities. Its a three/three-and-a-half hour drive, though. We didn't want to have to pay the equivalent of 10x a bus ticket for a taxi if we didn't have to.
The manager of our hotel suggested that we take a taxi out to the main bus station to see if we could maybe get tickets in person. That turned out to be a bust...but on our tuk-tuk ride back to the main part of the city, we happened across a tour shop that advertised mini-bus tickets from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. The cost was just a little more than a normal bus ticket and they had spots open for the next day. It seemed a little too good to be true, but we went ahead and bought tickets and hoped everything would work out so we could get to Chiang Rai the next day.
With our travel plans mostly arranged for the next day, we resumed our planned exploration of a few more temples in the main area of Chiang Mai, including Wat Chedi.
My favorite part of this temple was some golden stupas with elephants sticking out.
But there were also a lot of other cool buildings and statues and some funny signs.
Almost all of the temples also have signs about respecting buddha. We decided we should get a picture of one for documenting purposes.
The Wat Chedi temple complex also housed the "city pillar," but I wasn't allowed inside (see photo below). Dylan went in and got some photos to show me at least!
After Wat Chedi, we did a little more adventuring through the city to see some more temples, like Wat Chiang, and the Three Kings Monument.
Eventually, I convinced Dylan that we should get a Thai massage and one of the many, many places that offered them in Chiang Mai.
The Thai massage felt more like a stretching, acrobatic extravaganza than a relaxing massage, but I was glad that I tried it. I'm not sure Dylan feels the same...but he survived!
We ended the day with an advnturous trip to a restaurant called P.P. BBQ, which was all-you-can eat BBQ that you cook yourself on hot plates set on top of coals. I felt way out of my element, and we were both too nervous to try cooking most of the weird meats (like intestines and chicken's feet) that were available. But Dylan cooked us some pretty tasty marinated pork and chicken!