Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chiang Mai, Thailand: An intimate look

Returning to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand for a visit, I had seen most of the "must see" sights. However, as I walked through the streets in the Old City and into the courtyards of some of the more than 100 temples, I began to look a little more closely at the details. As a result, I came away with a more intimate look at Thailand's second largest city.

Following are glimpses into the everyday scenes in Chiang Mai, nearly all without identifying features that give away their location. My intent was to document the city and its people up close. I hope I have succeeded, and invite your comments.

All photos by the author, all rights reserved. Copyright © 2014 John R Stiles. It is illegal to use the images without permission.

Monk vestments drying near the dormitory at a temple.

Colorful decorations hang across a temple prayer hall.

Puppets in traditional Thai dress

A senior monk strolls down a street, shielded from the hot sun

This delicate glassware contains relics of various important Buddhist monks. One (higher, out of sight) is purported to contain a relic of the Buddha.
Thais do not have cemeteries so most temples have memorials like this for families to remember their departed loved ones. 
Temple altars have a variety of Buddha images
Weathered wood of temples has wonderful texture
Bodhi trees (it is said Buddha attained enlightenment under one in India) are considered sacred in Thailand, thus many are wrapped in colorful lengths of fabric.
Intricate reliefs are common on temple windows and doors
This colorful shed caught my eye
An artist paints on a temple's grounds.
Temple altar. The lotus-shaped decorations are made from dried flowers. Beautiful and intricate.
At night, Chiang Mai is quiet, with scenes like this along small side streets.
Street vendors work late into the night. This one is near my hotel.
Akha hill tribe woman near Chiang Mai

Lost in translation. The Thai is not any more understandable, according to a Thai friend. This was written by a monk at a mountaintop temple near Chiang Mai.
Steps on a pagoda that enshrines a Buddha relic, built by local kings circa 1840.
A senior monk blesses the devout.
There are many al fresco paintings on temple walls. Unfortunately, I cannot read the teachings written beneath each one. You will just have to use your imagination.

This is an exception to my unidentifiable location guideline. Anyone who has been to this temple will know it immediately. But I liked the contrast and unusual perspective of this view. Most visitors take photos of the grand vista within the temple grounds. This one makes me feel like being on the inside looking out.

I liked the serene face and gold leaf on this Buddha statue in one of the temples.
Life size concrete elephants surround a chedi (pagoda) at a temple
Kitchen at a riverside restaurant

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