Today I visited the Ying and Yang of temples (black and white), pretty ironic since I thought the experience was both good and bad. The trip also included a hot spring, blue temple and a Karen Tribe village visit. The temples were all pretty new, all built within the last 20 years. They certainly were beautiful, but the short stops, over commercialization and the large amounts of tourists negatively impacted my experience. You may find the following recap to reflect that, so I apologize. I did find some good things on the tour, but if I had the choice, I wouldn’t have visited these again, so just want to be honest!
We pulled up and I was thinking, this can’t be it. It was just like any other market area in Chiang Mai but with a fountain in the middle of it. The fountain was the hot spring. People would pay to put their feet in. It could have very well been water coming out of the city pipes, it didn’t look natural at all. The coolest thing about this place is that they would sell eggs in baskets that you could cook in the hot water. The stop was only 15 minutes, after an 1.5 hour long drive that was pretty short, but there wasn’t really much else to do here unless you wanted to buy souvenirs.
I was also expecting this to be a little more rural. It was place directly off the road, and while it was beautiful, you had to look past hundreds of tourists taking selfies to see it (it was also Chinese New Year so traffic was worse than normal). The temple was all white and with mirrors, so it was very unique. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but I actually found the inside to be the most interesting because there was a mural on the wall that had a unconventional combination of godly and modern depictions. For example, there would be a temple and sitting on the roof would be Spiderman. There were these little things you could buy and write a wish on and then hang it near the temple. I considered doing it for a second, but I’m pretty sure they just dispose of them at the end of the day and decided it was just another way for them to collect money. Instead, I threw a coin in a wishing well. Also, probably collected, but cheaper expense for me.
Similar story here with the crowd, but I did like the inside of this one. There was a very large buddha statue in it, and I think the size of it brought a very peaceful feeling inside.
This one might have been my favorite because it was the largest one and the most different from other temples. It was very dark and used a lot of different materials to construct, such as black wood, furs, horns and dead animals. It was a larger piece of land with several houses on it. I decided to try the Durian fruit at the end because I’ve heard that despite it smelly horrible, it tastes very good. I beg to differ. I ended up getting a Strawberry one instead.
I felt a little uncomfortable coming here. I feel weird taking pictures of people (clearly I don’t have that problem with animals). I would have rather sat and talked with them and learned more about them, but the guide only gave us a 2 minute introduction and then said we could pay them 20 Bahts to take pictures. I took a few because I did find them beautiful and interesting (you know, their neck isn’t actually elongated, the heavy rings actually just push their rib cage down and it appears their neck is longer). I would watch the way other people would take selfies with them as if it was a zoo and it made me feel really bad. Also, it was more of a shop than a village. Yes, they did live behind it, but the main purpose of this tour was to get us to buy the things they were selling and take pictures as we go.
It was a long ride back, 3.5 hours, more than I had been told. I ended up watching a movie on my phone to try and pass the time. That was a full 12 hour day, mostly in a car, so I did want to walk a bit before going to bed. I walked to the night market which I thought was very cool. There were older more traditional ones and some more moderns ones that reminded me of the food truck parks that we have in the states.