So we are close to Songkran 2021. Considering that we are in the worst situation when it comes to newly reported cases of Covid since the pandemic started here in Chiang Mai, but we have the best air (summer storms yesterday), the feeling is indeed a bit mixed. There is a humble and low key atmosphere around town. With the clear blue skies, blooming Golden Showers and empty streets it is hard not to go for some photo shooting in downtown.
We have been told only to do digital water fights this year so I am looking forward to seeing some temples and experiencing the traditional aspects of Thai New Year without getting soaking wet.
Yesterday, I was sitting with my son in our favorite café, Into the Woods, the fairytalish coffeeshop was completely empty so no issues with social distance.
I just realised what a lovely corner of the city this is. The moat and this northern corner along Sri Poom Road easily deserves a few hours of your time. And it has been quite some time since I walked through these parts.
So, starting from the old city wall, originally built 700 years ago(but restored in modern times) and the Northern Gate of the White Elephant. The Chang Puak gate was where royals entered to old town, the inner city.
Enjoying flowering Ratchapreuk trees I took some time to check out two temples that I previously mostly just walked past.
Stories told through the centuries by Lanna elders speaks of a piece of land owned by a horse merchant, or a royal soldier under the service of General Jaomun Damtuang. Or maybe he was both! Anyway he saw his favorite horse die. So he decided to commission a temple on his private land for this horse. It is claimed that temple goes back all the way to 1492. The row of horses is rather unique.
Opening hours from 07.00 to 17.00.
Just a bit further up the road you have a more spectacular temple.
Wat Raja Montean(Ratcha Montien) also called the Red Temple, or the temple of the Big Buddha
The present area is not very old, built in 1974 and renovated again after that. But it is claimed that there was a temple here during the reign of the first king of Lanna, Mengrai. He and his wife is supposed to have given large donations and support to this temple and the abbot here was an exceptionally wise and clever man with influence on Buddhism in Chiang Tung and Xipsong Panna.
This temple is very ornate and striking from the outside. Very inviting for a photo stop. But walk up the stairs to the viharn and you will be rewarded with more beauty. When the temple is normally functioning they also provide monk-chats.
If you get hungry in this area you have one of the best places for Khao Soi here. The typical Northern style curry, noodle soup. Try Khao Soi Khun Yai.