From Bangkok we flew north to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel in the Old City.
Our hotel was across the street from Wat Chedi Luang, and we visited it as the sun set. Shown above, Wat Chedi Luang was started in 1411 and intended to be as high as a dove can fly. Built for height, an earthquake knocked down the top third before it was complete, and it’s still a ruin.
The Wat has a single tower with steep stairways guarded by nagas in each compass direction.
After dinner we walked to a gate of the Old City, to see the city wall and moat. Despite what seemed to a crêpe cart on every block, the crêpe was only so-so. 😦
The next morning we walked to the other notable Wat in the Old City, Wat Phra Singh. Many people, including these young men in uniforms, prayed at the statue outside.
The statue is of a monk with a umbrella. Nagas are used to decorate the roof and the stairways. The roof nagas were also used at Wats in Bangkok. We learned that the use of nagas to decorate roofs originated in the south and is called the Siam style.
Northern Thailand was annexed by the south in the early 20th century, and the central government is imposing its Siam architecture. The Lanna kingdom ruled the area 700 years ago. Shown below, the Lanna architecture is simpler.
We took a red truck taxi to the Central Airport Plaza, ate lunch in the basement food court, and walked around in the afternoon. In the food court we shared a table with a retired Thai couple who both spoke very good English. A dish they were eating looked good, so we asked about it and bought one too. That evening we walked to the Saturday night market, fought through the crowds, and ate there.
Red truck taxis (songthaew) are readily available, easy to use, and cheap. We found them at the street corner, asked the price to the destination, and paid when we got off. They travel fixed routes, but they’ll take you to where you want to go if they’re empty. A red truck between the Old City and the Central Airport Plaza cost 60 baht for two people. Taking a red truck to the airport cost 100 baht — half the price of a taxi on the street and a quarter of the price of a taxi arranged by our hotel — so that’s what we did. Haul the suitcases into the truck and make sure nothing falls out along the way!
Here’s a video out the back of a red truck. Watch for the moat of the Old City on the left.