i'm finally catching up on posting pictures from the final chapter of my january travels: THAILAND!
boarding a little plane in bangkok heading for the island of koh samuia view from the ferry, leaving big buddha beach (koh samui) behind....soon to land on the less developed, much quieter island of koh phangansunset covea view of the bay at santhiya resorti loved this boat-shaped piece of driftwood filled with orchids.the gorgeous pool with cascading waterfallsenjoying pad thai, beer and a smoothie on the beach....pretty much in heaven after months of red pepper pastesunset over santhiyaafter a few days of relaxation at santhiya, we took the ferry back to koh samui and stayed for a couple of days at zazen boutique hotel. i was still pretty ill (i think it may have been the beach food after all), but i loved laying low in the beautiful surroundings. this was our room. off the charts lovely.koh samui airport! voted world's best airport....the silk cushions say it all!
after flying back to bangkok, i flew up to chiang mai. i spent a week there and stayed at the 3 sis bed and breakfast. as you can guess, it's run by three sisters! i so very highly recommend this accommodation. it's in the old part of the city, which is much calmer, yet still within walking distance to the night bazaars and the hustle 'n bustle outside of the old walled city.right outside the front door of 3 sis b&b is wat chedi luang - one of the oldest and most famous temples in chiang mai.i love the elephants....inside the temple grounds, some monks and lay people chanting.chiang mai (lanna) style of architechtureburmese stylereclining buddhahappy buddha! (chinese influence)
my favorite temple, wat phan ohn, was around the corner from my b&b (there are some 300 temples inside the city of chiang mai). i stumbled upon this sweet temple yard my first day in chiang mai and after that found myself visiting it every day. there were often the same people sitting around in the courtyard relaxing, reading books, playing games, chatting....it felt like a neighborhood gathering place. i always felt safe and peaceful there.on sundays there is always a feast of food served at this and many other temples. inside the templein the evening, incense and flowers are set out for people to come and make offerings at the pagoda.
yet another temple that caught my eye as i was strolling through town...noticeable indian influencethe pagoda next to this templemore beauty....when i was visiting this temple, i started chatting with a monk and he said that this pagoda is burmese style. chiang mai's temples are a beautiful blend of burmese, indian, chinese, and lanna (chiang mai) styles.
some scenes around town.....
one of the giant indoor markets...floors and floors of stuff!
a couple of gals and the cutest pup ever!novice monks
the banners, lanterns and flags hanging from the trees and pagoda were breathtakingly beautiful in the breeze....
the monks' alms bowls
WAT PHRA SINGlighting incense....making prayersa monk telling stories to some children....lots of laughter was coming from the group!i met up with a fellow solo traveler and we took each others' picture here!
on my last day....DOI SUTHEPthe view from the top of the 300+ stairsbeautiful blossoms
the emerald buddhapeople receiving blessings from a monk.a monk tying a rope bracelet of blessing onto the wrists of only men....monks are not allowed to touch women. so, all of us females had to line up and have a lay MAN tie a bracelet onto our wrists. for some reason, this was the precise moment when the last remnants of romanticization that i have had of buddhism vanished. i still feel indelibly connected to certain buddhist practices and teachings, but as far as most historical and all patriarchal aspects go - the rose colored glasses have shattered!after visiting doi suthep, my wonderful tour guide took me to a giant waterfall. we climbed about halfway to the top. stunning. after all the golden buddhas and monuments of stone....the shopping frenzies and tuk-tuk (motorbike taxi) rides....it was perfect to end my time in chiang mai out in nature....listening to the sounds of rushing water and breathing in the lushness of life.