The Things in the North – Part II: Rai Mai Shoe

We left Pang Mapha the next morning to head to Chiang Rai, taking a van back through Chiang Mai to do so. We arrived in the evening, were joined by Jenna, slept in our wonderful and cheap lakefront hotel, then set off the next morning to check out the White Temple and the Black Temple (which we later learned is called “Black House”). The White Temple:

BEHOLD.

BEHOLD.

The most elaborate "No Smoking" sign in the world, I imagine/hope.

The most elaborate “No Smoking” sign in the world, I imagine/hope.

There were a few of these on the temple grounds, and for a dollar, you could add a little silver plaquething with your name onto one of these trees. A beautiful guestbook.

There were a few of these on the temple grounds, and for a dollar, you could add a little silver plaquething with your name onto one of these trees. A beautiful guestbook.

IMG_20130411_114942_188 IMG_20130411_115042_127
…was insane. The interior, which had a “no photos allowed” policy was stunning in every sense of the world. The artist who designed the entire temple (and continues to design it, with hand selected students. The project is supposed to take 90 years, continuing after his death) portrayed images of suffering and peace – with the former as a road to the latter – in incredible fashion, combining religious mythological imagery (demons, fire and brimstone, Buddhas, etc) with contemporary mythological and political imagery (everything from Hello Kitty to Batman to Harry Potter, the Twin Towers, etc) in a provocative and, for me, disturbing scene.

A tiny fragment of the interior photo that I found online. You can see Bumblebee from Transformers on the left side.

A tiny fragment of the interior photo that I found online. You can see Bumblebee from Transformers and Jigsaw from Saw on the left side.

From there, we went to the Black House, which didn’t have the immediate visual splendor of the White Temple, but was definitely a treat in its own right. As opposed to having a single primary attraction, the Black House was more of a temple compound, with a dozenish buildings containing various works of art, wood-crafted furnitures, and animals skins to convey an earthy, primal mood that was a stark contrast to the White Temple’s divinity.

The foresty grounds of the Black House.

The foresty grounds of the Black House.

White buildings in the center. Very striking given the deep green forest and other black buildings.

White buildings in the center. Very striking given the deep green forest and other black buildings.

A nicely carved door.

A nicely carved door.

One of the bizarre interior dining scenes in an art gallery, complete with black furniture and animal bones.

One of the bizarre interior dining scenes in an art gallery, complete with horned furniture and animal bones.

From the black temple, we took a taxi out of Chiang Rai and over to Pu Chi Fa. A google image search of Pu Chi Fa makes it clear why it was on our destination list – visitors get an unreal view from the mountaintop, complete with crisp sunrise and a low fog layer that makes it look like you’re living on Olympus. Unfortunately, the weather was unkind to us and we didn’t get the thick, lush clouds beneath us that we’d hoped for. Still, we did get to play a great soccer game with the local kids (we won, don’t worry. U-S-A! U-S-A!) and enjoy a beautiful, though not magical, sunrise from the top of the mountain.

Layers of beauty.

Layers of beauty.

The ladies.

I call this piece: A sign, a sun and the ladies.

The village shirt I mentioned in the last post.

The village shirt I mentioned in the last post. Holding on to my beanie so I don’t have to jump off the mountain after it if it blows away.

We left Chiang Rai that morning (after the sunrise) and headed back to Chiang Mai for the final and most anticipated leg of our northern adventure: Songkran. Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Year. It takes place during the hottest days of the year and is a water festival where the Thai people blah blah honor gods blah blah peace and love.

Songkran is a three day water war and it the best holiday in the world.

The first of three weapons I would go through.

The first of three weapons I would go through.

Songkran parade.

Songkran parade.

Nothing is so fearsome as a squad of teenage boys with water guns.

Nothing is so fearsome as a squad of teenage boys with water guns.

Glimpse: Songkran Chiang Mai 2013, the World’s Largest Water Fight

^ That’s just a glimpse and doesn’t even begin to capture the full insanity of what happens when an entire nation decides to revert to grade school warfare. I couldn’t really take pictures as I didn’t want my phone wrecked, and there’s no point in trying to describe it: There are no words, my friends.

It was the perfect end to a perfect vacation during the perfect six months in the perfect country. The only downside was saying goodbye to some truly incredible people that have done a wonderful number on how I think, how I feel about myself and others, and how I treat each day I have for the rest of my life.

Five days and 1 blog post away from home.

Moses

What I’m Reading: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

What I’m Writing: The Lincoln Lions (novel) – 42%

What I’m Listening To: The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

Advertisements
1 comment
  1. lisamaemeyer said:

    I agree that nothing is more terrifying than a gang of teenage guys on a water gun rampage.

    And you can’t leave yet! We never went to a karaoke bar! Have a safe trip home, anyway. I’m glad I met you 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: