I arrived Bangkok with a cold, so I babyed myself for a couple of days. I did rouse myself to take the express boat on the river (kind of like a bus) to visit Wat Po with its reclining Buddha, the Marble Temple, and a government shopping center. For lunch I ate chicken and cashews over rice (good!) and then rested at my hotel.
The next day after breakfast I went shopping. I bought postcards and stamps and two mother-of-pearl little spoons with which to serve caviar (better than metal). I bought some ampicillin for my sore throat at a local pharmacy—I wonder about it being stored at room temperature here, which is at least 90 degrees F! I again took the express boat and went to see the Emerald Buddha, which is really made out of nephrite jade or jasper quartz. It is quite small and was a little disappointing, but the hall in which it is situated was really beautiful. Next to it is the Grand Palace, which is fancy beyond belief. The interior is decorated with lots of gilt, colorful mosaics, and marble. The roof tiles are polished orange and green.
Before the train pulled out of the station, the national anthem was played over the loud speaker and everyone came to attention. I slept pretty well in my second-class upper bunk, after a poor dinner in the dining car. I arrived at 8:30 AM and went directly to the West River View Lodge, a wonderful small hotel overlooking the river.
After resting a bit, exploring the hotel and getting settled, I had honey chicken with sticky rice for lunch, topped off by a hot fudge sundae—comfort food for my cold.
I hired a bicycle rickshaw to take me touring for a couple of hours. I saw several wats (temples), which are quite plain but very serene and beautiful. Chiang Mai is a laid-back town with beautiful weather—not so hot and humid, not much traffic, and friendly people. That evening was New Year’s Eve so at midnight there was rousing fireworks, which was fun to see exploding above the temple roofs.
New Year’s Day inspired me to do some serious walking. I walked completely across old Chiang Mai, stopping in to visit the many wats, shops, and other interesting buildings, as well as stopping for tea.
That evening I had a light supper in a German beer garden. A visit to the Night Market, a colorful jam-packed large indoor place that had everything for sale finished out my evening. I was still suffering from my upper respiratory problems so I was taking it quite easy.
The next day was a shopping day. I took a tuk-tuk to the arts and crafts stores all located together.
The crafts are lovely, but, of course, one has to buy according to what one can carry home. I contented myself with some silver jewelry, and then had a marvelous lunch of fried duck with asparagus.
North Gate. I took a minibus up to Doi Suphet, a temple a few miles out of town.
Tomorrow I’m going to take a little one-day tour to Doi Inthanon.