Chiang Mai was my absolute favorite part of our time in Thailand. It has beautiful mountains, amazing food (including certain dishes only found in this region), beautiful people, and a relaxed vibe. It is the largest city in Northern Thailand and is considered to be one of the most culturally significant places. Many consider it the "second city" next to Bangkok but it feels so different. During my time in Chiang Mai I was also so blessed to photograph stories for International Justice Mission Thailand and will share more about that as IJM publishes the stories (but can I just say it was so amazing to meet people doing hard and good, good work there).
We rented a motor bike and set our to explore and I absolutely feel in love with Chiang Mai!! Our first trip was up the mountain and we found interesting little turn offs that looked too enticing to pass up. The hike was a bit more than we bargained for but climbing the rocks in search of a waterfall we could hear in the distance, was too tempting. Once we hiked for a bit, being carefully to avoid my gear going off a cliff (which almost happened twice), we came upon a group of monks in training swimming and cooling off. The monks soon disappeared but some young men stayed and we enjoyed cheering them on as they jumped into the falls and laughing as they teased anyone who was afraid to jump in. I love these moments when you stumble upon a place off the trail.
We continued on the motorbike up to the temple we could see in the distance. Once we arrived we parked among the many bikes and greeted some shop owners selling souvenirs roadside. It was then time to climb the MANY stairs to visit the temple Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep at sunset. We were welcomed at the temple and were able to explore the massive grounds with beautiful views of the city below. The monks were leading communal prayers and many came to worship and offer gifts and prayers. Just hanging around observing and asking questions allowed me to understand a bit more about the rhythms of the temple. The older monks were training those still pursuing their studies in Buddhism. My absolute favorite part of the temple was when I noticed the younger monks sneaking video games on a phone and giggling when they realized I saw them. Join me in exploring the temple.....
More from Chiang Mai soon.