Woke up quite late today as we both didn’t have the best night’s sleeps cos of the hard mattress (beginning to think that there isn’t a soft one in Thailand) and some d-bag was playing the bongos until gone 1.00am. We rushed to get ready as we wanted to fit in three Wats and the Lanna Folklore Museum. This was never gonna happen but we gave it a go.
We left aiming to go to Wat Phra Singh but ended up, due to our poor sense of direction, at Phan Tao which is on the other side of town. I wasn’t expecting much but it had a lovely outside area with trees, statues, hanging bells, wind chimes, a massive gong that you could ring (according to the gestures of a local guy) and a big golden pyramid with a Buddha statue in each side where people had laid offerings of flowers and incense etc. You had to take your shoes off to approach it and Lauren’s feet got too hot on the ground so she didn’t see it up close and to be honest it was symmetrical so it didn’t really matter. There were also little sayings hung about the place—wise words I suppose you’d call em, presumably taken from the monk’s holy book whatever that is. The temple was white, red and gold and was guarded by two dragon statues which I think are used to out bad spirits.
Before even looking around Lauren saw some postcards and was quick to grab a couple and leave a generous donation ( ฿5). The ceiling was high, there was a mauve carpet running the length of the building which was empty in the centre, had an elevated section to the right and a special “for monks” chair near the front and an altar of a giant gold Buddha with masses of offerings and carvings piled high against it. It looked like the pyramid from outside but with gifts. I’ve since learned that they give offerings to earn merit and to keep their families well, etc. It was a pretty building and I’ve never been in a ‘working’ temple before so it was interesting. Lauren was bored after five minutes but I think as I had the camera I was occupied taking pictures. There was also some artwork all over the high walls with descriptions of various holy places and stories, which killed some time reading them.
There was also a massive painting of the king. I haven’t mentioned before but they love their king. Well loved; he’s dead now, and they’re still in mourning. (They mourn for a year or so.) They have pictures of him everywhere. Not little ones either; I’m talking billboards and the lot. Anyway, the temple was free, nice to look at and had a good vibe. I was considering not going in ‘cos I only had shorts and there are some signs about the place that says no shorts but I think it means woman as there was a dos and don’ts as I went in and it looks like if your shorts are about knee height you’re okay. Just basically means don’t dress like a slag, which you shouldn’t do anyway as Thais find it generally disrespectful.
Next stop was the Folklore Museum. By the time we got there it was near the hottest part of the day and we were glad happy to pay ฿90 to get into the a/c building where the temperature was set only at 27 degrees but it felt relatively cooler. There were lots of plaques on the walls with lots to read if you’re into that, but not a whole lot of visual stimulus which left us feeling a bit disappointed. We expected a deep insight into the Lanna culture but instead—after reading about fifteen plaques about Buddhist rituals—we just ended up moseying through, looking at strange-shaped rocks and little carvings and such, as we had had enough of reading after five or six rooms with not much to look at. It spanned topics such as religion, traditional dress, basket weaving, food, superstition, etc. and there were about ten rooms or so. Maybe take you an hour or two if you read everything, but as I said it got a bit sterile after a little while and Lauren needed a wee and a sit down so we left and headed for the onsite cafe. We just wanted a water and a toilet but it looked posh and we felt out of place so we used their toilet and got outta there before we felt pressured to spend our precious baht.
I sat by a dead cockroach and planned our course to the temple we were supposed to go to before. We got there and it was busy so we decided to leave it until the morning when all the Chinese had gone. Not that I don’t like them, but while western tourists mostly just drink and play bongos, Chinese go places and make crowds. Curse them.