Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, the second most populous city in Thailand, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourists as it has substantially less of the "big city" disadvantages of pollution, noise and tourist hassle that exists in Bangkok. It is a city steeped in history, and scooters; the old central part still has a moat and remains of city wall and there are several hundred Buddhist temples (Wats) to explore. It sits amongst densely forested mountains and agricultural valleys near the borders of Myanmar and Laos and not far from Chiang Rai, centre of the now reformed "golden triangle". It is also close to the Doi Suthep and Doi Inthanon National Parks with their waterfalls, temperate rain forests, fresh air and tranquility.
The people appear to be very happy and respectful (their Buddhist philosophy) and generally courteous to foreigners. Get behind the wheel though and it's survival of the bravest! I drove 485km by car during my stay (mainly on country highways) and had very few anxious moments in the sometimes chaotic traffic. Always on guard, I religiously checked mirrors before doing anything, especially checking the left mirror for scooters coming up the inside. Look out for vehicles driven on the wrong side of the road before pulling out (double lines seem to be merely road decoration!). Speed limit signs are rarely visible - just "go with the flow". It was a lot of fun and I would do it again tomorrow if I had the chance!
Thailand bird images are here.
The Wikipedia entry for Chiang Mai is here.
|A panoramic view of Chiang Mai from Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.|
|Chiang Mai at ground level - a typical street view in the modern parts of the city. The traffic is chaotic but you quickly get used to it.|
|The moat and part of the old City Wall. Here's another view.|
|A part of Wat Phra Singh. This is Wat Chedi Luang.|
|Multi-armed golden Goddess at Wat Chompoo.|
|Beautifully colourful and ornate dress of the Thai hill people. Here's a view of the Doi Pui village flower gardens in full bloom.|
|Tricycle tuktuk driver taking a well-earned break from what is a pretty strenuous day's work in the heat and humidity.|
|A common sight - a family of four travelling on a scooter. Wearing of helmets is compulsory but the majority of motorcyclists don't wear them because of the heat and humidity.|