We flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai where we stayed 4 nights with Alan’s aunt Pisamai, widow of his uncle Eric, who died in 2010 aged 98! Pisamai lives in a bungalow close to the airport, which is handy for visitors but very noisy during the hours of flying which seem to be 7am to 1am. We were here 12 years ago since when Chiang Mai seems to have grown outwards and upwards with major traffic queues.
Pisamai and her sister Orapin took us out and about to see the sights. We visited a number of temples all of them very different although a common feature was the amount of gold! Relics of the Buddha are not uncommon and we even saw his (giant) footsteps!
Ninety five percent of the Thai population are said to be Buddhists and temple visitors are from all age groups. On Sunday, Wat Suthep, high above the city, was packed with visitors but during the week most places we visited were tranquil oases. We prefer them quiet and empty!
The dress code for temple visits is very strict and enforced – no shorts, short skirts or sleeveless tops – in the bigger temples extra cover-ups are available to borrow. The royal family are treated with similar respect and the same dress code applied at the Bhu Bhing Winter Palace where we walked in the fabulous gardens. Roses are a particular feature, considered very exotic in Thailand where orchids are more common.
Photos to follow – problems uploading!