06 June 2012

Were up and about early.  It was a travel day.  Chiang Dao to Chiang Mai and onto Lampang.
It was easy enough to walk to the bus station.  It was only about 500 metres up the road.  Our timing was good and the next bus was only about ten minutes away.

Catching this bus into Chiang Mai wasnt a problem.  We found a spare empty seat and took it.  Having said that, some poor Thai was probably too polite to say we were sitting in their chair and moved to another, as most people had gotten off the bus to stretch their legs.

The trip back to Chiang Mai was a bit disappointing.  After the excitement of getting off the tourist track we were heading back in.  Full steam ahead.  We did hope it was only long enough to catch the next bus.

At the station, we grabbed our bags and asked about a bus to Lampang.  A tuktuk driver came up and started babbling in Thai to us (Yes, I know this is not politically correct.  We are in their country and should speak some of the language…), however we got Lampang come with me.  I was hoping he didn’t expect to drive us there.  He lead us around to his tuktuk which was already almost full.  Cramming a few more people into it, He found Anna room at the end on the edge of the seat.  Andrew had to climb up to the roof to get our bags on there, and stood on the back ledge as we headed off to the other bus station.  Hanging on out the back was cool and refreshing as you got the breeze.  Although if you hung out too much you could put your foot on the car behind you.  Chiang Mai has three bus stations.  One going north, and 2 going south.  The old station with the dilapidated old busses, and the new station with the new air conditioned and sleeper busses.  We were dropped off at the old station  for the south.  Buying our ticket south was easy.  Then we found out it was leaving in 1/2 an hour from the new bus station.  Running over there to find the platform number and some food for the journey was exhausting.  It was so far away that we were sprinting through the traffic, past the pedestrians, over the bonnet of the tuktuk racing two tourists to their destination, in front of the bus that was determined to hit us, and into the monk on the other side of the road.  Anna with her shoulders uncovered and everything.  Nah.  It was just over the road.

We dint know we had booked a fancy bus, but just into the trip a guy came around with water for everyone.  He disappeared and came back with a snack each.  The rest of the trip was uneventful, until we pulled up for a break.  We got out to stretch our legs and found out it was our destination.  Lampang is definitely off the tourist trail.  There are no signs in English.  A tuktuk driver wanted to take us into town for 100 baht, and we politely told him no  (you can imagine what Andrew said) so we walked 20m down the road and caught one for 60.  Without haggling.

The Streets of Lampang

This driver drove us to the street we wanted and dropped us off pointing to a side road.  We thought that was the street and walked down it.  Turns out that the street we were on was the one we wanted.  There was a policeman at the end of the street that was helpful in guiding us to a guest house, however we took a wrong turn and ended up at a bridge over the river dividing the town.  On backtracking we asked another person and she drew Anna a map.  Walking down this road for a while, trailing our bags anda line of sweat we came to an area of about four guest houses in a row.  There was a man at one of them gesturing for us to go to his guest house.  How could we say no.  We went in and asked for a room.  He was more than happy to show us the room he had.  It was basic.  Wooden walls, cement floor, and a serviceable bathroom.  We couldn’t say no, as he was so happy to see someone.  It was also 300 baht.  With Aircon (although it is a cool evening and we are not using it!).  Dropping our bags we went to ask the way to the major Wat the town is renowned for.  It is 18km out of town. He gave us a map of the town, and pointed out there was a UNESCO Wat in town as well.

 

 

 

UNESCO awarded Wat 2008

Off for a walk around town, we went back over the river and walked to the Unesco site.  Wat Pongsanook.  This is a very pretty Wat.  The central Stupa is built over an old brick ruin with a monastery built up around it.  This site won a merit award in 2008.  The first Temple we went into was used for teaching.  On either side there was a raised dais for the monks to sit on, and mats on the floor for everyone else.  In the middle was the usual collection of Buddhas, and around the tops of the walls where the story of Buddha, from the first time he left his palace, to his enlightenment.  Like the stations of the cross in a church.  With pictures.  Off to the left side there was a seat with a statue of a monk in it.  Not sure what this was all about, but am sure it is someone special from this Wat.
There were a few other buildings around.  One contained a lot of things that could be wooden urns or something like a tabernacle, the next contained items used in ceremonies.  unfortunately all the writing was in Thai, so other than admiring the patterns in gold leaf we really didn’t get much of it.  Climbing up to the stupa, there was a room to the back with a reclining Buddha.  He also had the 108 symbols of Buddha’s teaching on his feet.  It must have hurt to get that tattooed on your feet.  Around the front of this statue there was Buddhas roulette.  We call it this because we didn’t really know what it was for.

Buddha’s Roulette

As we were alone here we could check it out properly.  There is a system in Buddhism where you can get your fortune predicted.  This can be from shaking out a numbered stick and reading the sheet associated with it or picking a number out of a hat etc.  We had encountered this before in other countries.  The Thais play roulette.  Insert your money in the machine, watch the lights spin around for a bit, before they come to stop on a number.  Open the draw and receive your fortune.  As these were in Thai, English and Chinese, we decided to give it a go.

“You’re like a mute being basted and couldn’t express what you think.  The patronage you get is just an illusion like a dream that vapors when you wake up.  Don’t think of coupling, otherwise you’ll be in such trouble.  However, you’re still lucky that if you’re involved in a lawsuit, you’ll win the case.  Your sincere comrade will support your success in profession. It’s possible for you to find cousins and friends that have been apart but scarcely find good fortune.”

 

 

 

Old town. Houses on Stilts or “Longpoles”

It was a nice temple though.  After leaving here we went in search of Ban Saonk Resident Numerous LongPoles.  The first marker point we had was a local market.  We found this and it turned out to be a food market.  While there were many people selling raw veggies and fish there were many more selling cooked produce.  We were joking that you could come here and buy all the ingredients for your meal, take it home and put it on plates for your kids showing what a good cook you are.  As we hadn’t eaten much today we picked up a couple of items from one stall.  We didn’t want to investigate too much, but on biting into the deep fried twist, it turned out to be….. Do you really want to know?  It is asia after all.  It was . . . Quails eggs.  Yeah I know.  Boring I know, but pretty tasty.  The second item was deep fried meat.  We are not sure what type of meat, but it was mixed with a few green bits to give it a spicy taste.  Munching on these we went up the road to find these long poles.  We had no idea what to expect.  Other than it was on the map.  Walking around we found some more of the traditional old wooden buildings on pillars.  Thinking we had missed it, we turned into a main road and walked along this.  There had been a fire in one of the buildings and completely destroyed it.  The house next door and half of the next one as well.  That must have been it.  Walking further we ended up back at the river.  This wasnt supposed to have happened if we were on the wrong road, so we pulled the map back out.  We had walked right past it.  It must have been the traditional buildings.

Famous Rooster given to town so they would wake up early enough for Alms.

Walking back beside the river we discussed how most places get this wrong.  You have a nice river, a bit of land beside it that you turn into a road.  Where are the cafe’s?  Where are the nice places to grab a drink and sit watching the world go by?  On this side of the river it was houses on the other side of the river it was slums.  Old bent and broken houses hanging out over the river.  In other places they have tried to fix up the waterfront with a nice path, but still nothing to support it.  Everywhere else there are street stalls selling drinks or food, but we couldn’t find one on the river.  As we came up to the main bridge in town, we spied some chairs outside.  Hopeing to get a drink, and replenish our liquids we went up to it.  Steakhouse!  Wat? What? Nothing,then a buffet steakhouse?  It was a bit surreal, but we could get a beer and sit by the water to drink it.  This was pleasant.  There were swallows gathering and flying around the water in a large swarm, and watching the weather front come in behind the bridge.  This built up quickly and was really dark.  I thought I would have to eat steak for dinner.  What a shame.  The front passed over without more than a few drops of rain, but as it lightened up a bit there were a few more.  Time to go.  The last part of the river walkway showed a group of people on the other side of the river doing their aerobics.  This is common in North East Asia, but is the first I have seen it down here.  By the time we got back to the Guest House it had started to rain well.  We waited out the rain with our new bottle of Hong Thong and Pepsi.  Talking to our host, trying to explain where Mimili was.  Comparisons were made to the hill tribes here as well.  Not sure if he got it, so tried to pull it up on the net.  Surprise Surprise the internet here doesn’t work either.  Free internet may be occasional internet.  Still, we havent posted since the first, and we have a heap of photos to show you (Yes, they are now resized and all – just no connection).

That’s about it unless you want to know about the fried pork and omelette for dinner at a local shop down the road.  However there are a lot of nice people here.

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