Category

Thailand

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Chiang Rai White Temple

There are basically two things to see in Chiang Rai, the white temple and the black temple (well, black house, but whatever). Today, we did the white temple. We walked over to the old bus station in the center of town and asked around for Wat Rong Khun. They pointed us to platforms 7 and 8. We bought our tickets from the lady there – 20 baht each (about $1.50 total). I’ve been doing better at reading Thai (I already speak/read/write Cambodian, and Thai characters are similar), so I was sure we were right because it said วัดร่องขุ่น on the little sign. We got on the bus and waited forever until it was finally full, and then we headed out down the main road toward the temple. You can see the temple off to the right after about 30 minutes, so you won’t miss it. The bus lets you off…

Thai Cooking Class

We love to cook, and we love thai food. So we wanted to learn how to cook thai food. All the guide books said to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai, so that’s what we did today. That and laundry. But you don’t care about laundry. So let’s cook! We did a half day class through Asia Scenic. They picked us up from our hotel around 4pm in a songthaew they had hired. We picked up a few other couples and made our way into town to the school. They’re located about a block in and a block up from Tha Phae Gate, so in a nice location that’s really easy to get to. We met our guide/chef named Proud and after figuring out what we wanted to make tonight (which we’ll get into in a second), she led us over to an open market to show us various Thai…

Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

Well that was crazy. We walked over from our hotel (by the way, we’re staying at the FX Hotel Royal Panerai – it’s awesome and it’s absolutely perfectly located for all the Yi Peng/Loi Krathong celebrations) to the river where we saw a bunch of people gathering for the festivities. We planted ourselves by a barrier so we would have front row seats for the parade. We had to wait a little longer than expected, but it was fun once it came through. Floats, fire breathers, dancers, and music. After the parade, we walked down to the river’s edge and sat watching people light fireworks – some cool ones but mostly bottle rockets. Although I suppose that nobody calls them bottle rockets here because they definitely do not use a bottle to launch them. They just hold them in their hand and then let it go…

Doi Suthep

We started the day off at church. We just did sacrament and then took off to explore Chiang Mai. We went back to the hotel and changed and then took the moto up to Doi Suthep. This is a temple up on a hill out west of the city limits. It takes about an hour to get out there, but it’s a scenic road that winds through the woods. The hardest part is passing the crazy buses that try to run the scooters off the road. Along the way, we stopped off at another temple called Wat Suan Dok. This temple had amazing murals and paintings all over the walls that tell the story of Siddhartha Guatama (the buddha). And then we walked next door to what we think was actually Wat Suan Dok. It’s a little more impressive. After winding our way up the mountain road…

Yi Peng in Chiang Mai – Mae Jo Lantern Release Guide

Because it’s so difficult to find the information that actually helps, here it all is, in one place. First, a little background. Yi Peng and Loi Krathong are two different holidays, held on the same weekend. Loi Krathong happens all over Thailand. Loi Krathong literally means “floating lantern” or “floating basket” and you can see people putting little candles on lotus leaves in any body of water throughout Thailand. It’s nice, but that’s not what this post is about. This is about Yi Peng. Yi Peng translates to “Second Full Moon.” This refers to the second month of the Lanna lunar calendar (not the Thai lunar calendar, which mostly coincides with our regular calendar). The Lanna lunar calendar is based on the harvest, so a new one starts in October, making the second month November. So this answers our first question: When is it? *Sept 2015 Update: Several websites are…

Yi Peng in Chiang Mai – Amazing Experience

I can show you pictures and videos and tell you every little detail about Yi Peng in Chiang Mai, but nothing you find online could ever do it justice. This is something everyone needs to experience for themselves. This festival was the reason we came to Asia in the first place. After seeing Tangled… …we looked up floating lanterns and found this festival and we’ve been planning it ever since. We had built up our expectations way beyond what they reasonably should have been, but the festival far exceeded our imagination. It was amazing. I still can’t believe that just happened. It was so surreal. So magical. So uplifting and spiritual. Isa and I almost cried during the event. More than once. We’ve done a lot of amazing things through the years – we’ve been extremely blessed with unbelievable opportunities around the world. But I’ve never quite felt like anything…

Chiang Mai Temples and Floating Lanterns

Today, we had one mission: practice shooting floating lanterns in low light so we don’t screw up tomorrow. We’ve read reviews of the Mae Jo Lantern Release for Yi Peng/Loi Krathong and it all happens at once and it’s so fast and if you don’t get it right the first time, you don’t get a second chance. Ultimately, we want to get a picture that shows the person’s face lit by the lantern, but not let the lantern be so bright that it’s blown out. Kinda like this, one of our shots from this evening: And do our best to not end up with shots like this… …unless, of course, artistically that’s what we were going for. 🙂 But before the sun went down and we could practice, we wanted to see as much of Chiang Mai as we could. Songthaews are ridiculously overpriced, so I convinced Isa that I…

Travel Day: Bangkok to Chiang Mai VIP Bus

Today we took a VIP bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. And it was amazing. The bus took off from Mo Chit, which we’re getting pretty good at by now. Basically, you have three choices when taking the bus from BKK to Chiang Mai. 1. VIP bus ($25 US) during the day; 2. VIP bus overnight (also $25); or 3. 2nd class a/c ($14). It’s a 10-hour ride, and we had already booked a hotel in Chiang Mai for tonight, so we decided to splurge and pay for a VIP bus during the day. The bus left Mo Chit at 9am. We were immediately given water and a snack box, which included a cupcake and a black sesame red bean bun. And coffee. The seats were wide and comfy. We had more than enough room to sit however we wanted. The bus only had three seats across, two on one…

Wat Arun and Dusit Palace

After we left the Grand Palace, we walked directly down the street toward the river, through the market and onto the 3 baht ferry that runs you to the other side. Our destination: Wat Arun. I have only ever taken pictures of Wat Arun from the opposite bank, by the palace. This was my first time exploring the temple and I was very excited. In Cambodian, “arun” means morning, so I always thought this was the Morning Temple, or Sunrise Temple. I was wrong. Apparently Arun is a deity, and this is Arun’s temple. Yup. So there’s some random knowledge for ya. Wat Arun has one tall tower in the middle and four less tall ones around it. The fun thing here is that you get to climb up pretty high and you get a sweet view of the river and palace on the other side. The stairs to the…

Bangkok Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Bangkok Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha The Grand Palace complex, which includes Wat Phra Kaew, is the one absolute must see in Bangkok. We were very excited to finally go this morning, as we were unable to make on Monday. We tried to research online how much the entrance fee was, but different sites were quoting different prices. When we arrived, we were hoping for 250 Baht but prepared for 400. The interwebs were wrong. 500 baht. Each. Which in the grand scheme of things is only $15 US, so we feel like we can’t complain, but when every other temple in Bangkok is free or nearly free, 500 baht is a lot. But they can charge whatever they want and we’ll still go. And they know that. And after seeing how busy it is inside, maybe they should charge more. When you first enter the Grand…