Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

A short journey of around 15 kilometers (30 minutes) from the city of Chiang Mai is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the most famous wat in Chiang Mai. The temple is often called “Doi Suthep” but actually that’s the name of the mountain it is located on (Mount Suthep). The temple was initially built as a Buddhist monastery in 1383 and still a working monastery today. 

Naga Serpent Staircase
The drive uphill is already an adventure in itself, add up the good weather and what you’ll have is a promising day of fun and exploration! And since the temple is on the top of the mountain, expect a great panoramic view of the city.

From the car park, you have to take 309 steps of the intricately carved mythical Naga Serpent Staircase to reach the wat. For those who are not capable of navigating the stairs, you can use the tram for 30 baht 1 way or 50 baht two-way. The entrance fee if 50 baht for foreigners. 

Doi Suthep golden spire
Upon reaching the top and entering the vicinity, you will be welcomed by the sight of the golden spire located at the centre of the temple.  

Around the spire you will find a lot of mini enclave and historical murals and shrines. You will even find a copy of the Emerald Buddha statue. 

Sharing some snaps here:

replica of the Emerald Buddha

 The temples and amazing architecture:

Gongs and bells near the viewing deck:

Around one side of the temple is the viewing deck which offers a panoramic view of Chiang Mai:

A local kid at the bottom of the Naga staircase ready to pose with you... for a fee. 

And a kiss.. for free!  Definitely a must visit temple in Chiang Mai!

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show, Chiang Mai

"Khantoke" is a Thai Lanna tradition, it means  the act of serving small dishes in a tray to be sampled by diners seated on the floor at dinner time. Traditional Lanna Khantoke dinner is the combination of classical Thai dance and excellent food. For just around 500 baht you will enjoy a night of good Thai food and great entertainment!

At present as you will see from the picture above, the guests are given a choice to be seated Lanna style (traditional floor seating) or be seated in a western style in regular chairs at a table as they dine.

The Khantoke is the red circular wooden tray set on pedestal that serves as a table. 
Even at present day, Khantoke is still being served to guests at various ceremonies like celebrations (birthdays, wedding, housewarming, etc) or even funerals. 

Lower right side is my designated place and Khantoke! right in front of the stage.. yebahh!! 

During my one week business trip to Chiang Mai, though alone, I made sure to book one night for this cultural dinner and show to make my stay memorable. The rate was inclusive of round trip transportation service from the hotel to Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center. When you arrive at the venue, you will have to remove your shoes. The decorations and the hostesses in their traditional attire are already a feast for the eye! You will have your designated place, for me since I was alone, I was seated in the very front.. hehe

During the meal you’ll get a chance to sample several typical Northern Thai dishes, Chiang Mai Style : Banana Fritter, Clear Vegetable Soup, Sticky Rice or Steamed rice, Deep Fried Chicken, Fresh Fruit in Season, Crispy Pork Skin, Stir – Fried Mixed Vegetables, Crispy Rice Noodle, Pork Curry with Ginger and Tamarind Chiang Mai Style, Grilled Young Chili Paste with Steamed vegetables - Minced pork and Tomato Sauce and a choice of Coffee or Tea. 

As you enjoy your meal, you will be entertained by a selection of northern cultural performances including the charming Fon Lep (Thai Finger Dance), Ram Dab (Thai Sword Dance), Fon Thiean (Thai Candle Dance), and Ram Wong (Group Dance). 

Let me share some of my shots of the dancers:

Fon Lep (Thai Finger Dance)

Ram Dab (Thai Sword Dance)

To end the evening everyone will transfer to a different venue for a special hilltribe show performed by various members of Yao, Lahu, Meo, Lisu, and Karen hilltribe.

The show and the dinner lasted for about 2 hours. A definitely must do in Chiang Mai!

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