The Secret Temple
Temples again... yet, we are discovering quickly that what appeals to most tourists is not really our piece of cake! As much as we want to see what all the guides and travel books so lavishly described as must-sees, we find that what we have been loving best so far has been the little surprises and secrets we have found along the way to the bigger attractions!
We decided to visit Doi Suthep temple yesterday. Since we spend most of our evenings wandering through the night markets, we gave up on getting up and ready early mornings. So, by almost 11 am, we were slowly getting our little crew out the door.
We decided to eat at a nice restaurant at the base of the mountain and then see how the kids were behaving before making the drive and the few stops up the mountain to Doi Suthep temple.
After a nice meal and a stop at a bakery to buy soft cake rolls and powdered sugar dusted pastries stuffed with custard we felt like we had all we needed for the adventure ahead.
We took a taxi but asked to be dropped off at Pha Lat Temple(the secret temple). We had briefly browsed a few pictures on the web the night before and since the kids were starting to show a little less enthusiasm at visiting temples we thought this one might be of interest to them since it was nestled in the forest and had opportunities for a few small hikes!
I must admit that when our taxi driver dropped us off at the location marked on our map, we weren’t to sure we actually were at the right place. Nothing seemed to stand out... so we went around the little temple that was close to the road and started walking a little trail that slowly took us down the mountain.
We found the nicest temple surrounded by lush green trees and vines, and even a waterfall. We walked around the site and could feel the serenity in the air!
People were meditating sitting on rocks scattered through the waterfall or in little temples found all over the grounds. There were flowers the size of the kids heads and their aroma filled the air!
We later found a little spot away from the few people that were there and decided it was the perfect place to share our little pastry pic nic!
We had seen, painted on a piece of wood, that a trail led from where we were to Doi Suthep temple. We weren’t too confident we could tackle it being so late in the afternoon, having not a whole lot of water left and seeing that the trail was really just a beaten path in the mountain that probably not a whole lot of people had ventured on but decided to give it a try anyways!
Good thing it crossed the main road after maybe 20 minutes of walking cause by then we already had enough of the dusty “trail”... we were already out of breath, extremely thirsty and my legs were already sore from having to carry a little person on my back while maintaining my balance so I wouldn’t stumble down the few meters we had managed to climb!
We just sat on the rails by the side of the road hoping a red pickup truck( the main taxis in Chiang Mai) would roll by and still have enough room for our whole family... and one did!!!
We climbed in and enjoyed the curvy ride up the mountain from the comfort of our seats! Good thing we did hitch a ride for we had forgotten that to see Doi Suthep you have to climb another 300 steps(which was a piece of cake for us after having climbed the 1200 steps to the Tiger Cave Temple Mountain...)
We were surprised when we had arrived at our destination that we weren’t asked to pay the foreigner fee to visit the temple...but... after having climbed the steps, surely enough, there was the little booth asking for a few Bath per person. How wise of them to wait till after you have done all the work to ask you to buy a ticket, who would just turn around then??
We paid our entrance fee and then walked around the site... it was so full of tourists, you could hardly take a decent picture... the temples were nice but we still had the taste of the nature oasis we had experienced a few hours before so this over-touristy temple really wasn’t our favourite!
The view from the top was pretty amazing though!!!!
The kids wanted to spend what seemed like an eternity to me who doesn’t like shopping, browsing through the alleys of the shops that were occupying the side of the streets nearby! They bought a few souvenirs while I sat at a bench with the younger ones convincing a very insisting lady that Keilan was indeed a boy and not a “lady” even though he had long hair... Jeremie and I sure had a good laugh about that one...
At the end of the day, we climbed into another one of those red trucks and made our way back home. The driver managed to squeeze 12 people in the back and two other men were holding on to rails while standing on the little step at the back.
They made Finn laugh so hard he was crying while watching these two Spanish guys entertain us all the way to their drop off location!
One of them had bleached-blond hair flowing in the wind and made believe he was making the truck go forward while pushing with his foot like on a skateboard while the other one who sported John Lennon glasses was trying to eat his burger while staying put on the step! It was pretty hilarious!
We put the kids to bed early and then had marinated lamb, stewed chicken and beef with rice and cucumber salad for under 20$... thank you very much!