Thailand’s Blue Tiger:Day 4 (Scene 4)
As I said before, Wat Chiang Man is composed of various structures. The last post demonstrated the exquisiteness of the temple’s oldest structure. Even though is about 700 years old, we can still feel the wonderful aesthetic sense of its builders.
The other structures in the temple are excellent examples of buildings decorated in the Lanna style (remember that Chiang Mai was ruled by the Lanna kingdom for many years). In summary, the Lanna style can be recognized by the abundant use of red lacquer, the emphasis on red roofs and the utilization of multicolored tiles of mirrored glass. A detailed look at the buildings reveals the difference between them and the temples of Bangkok.
The wiharn at the north end of the complex shows the typical Lanna style. Almost all the surface of the building, including the stairs, is decorated with sparkling mirrors. A wiharn is a building housing an important Budhha statue. The Thai temples often contain one or more wiharns.
After visiting the temple, we moved to our hotel. We only had a couple of hours to refresh, shower and get ready for dinner. Dinner was served at a private home. The family’s house was made of teakwood. For me, the house felt more like a teakwood mansion. It was interesting to notice that the residence was owned by a middle class family. I can’t imagine how the houses of the upper classes are.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of the evening. I had the brilliant idea of only taking my new Canon Ti1 to the dinner. Because I wasn’t familiarized with the camera, most of my pictures turned out blurred. I tried to save them with Photoshop but my efforts were in vain.
The evening was fantastic. We were received by the house owner and her daughters. They offered us appetizers and a cooking demonstration. One of the appetizers was particularly interesting. We were presented with a tray full of different garnishes like coconut, peanuts, shallots, lemongrass, garlic and limes with their skin (everything was cut into little pieces). Then, we were supposed to put what we wanted on a leave (I can’t remember the type of leave), roll it and eat it. I was a little bit hesitant to try at first but my husband insisted. I felt such a burst of flavor in my mouth. This is a case for trying all foods at least once. Limes with skin anyone?
After a fulfilling dose of appetizers and curries cooked in clay pots, we were told a surprise was waiting for us. We had the opportunity to light and release some typical lanterns. These are the ones used during the Lay Krathong celebration. Lay Krathong is better known as the Festival of Lights. The Thai word ‘Loy’ means ‘to float, while ‘Krathong’ is a small raft. During the festival, Thais build their small Kratongs and decorate them with flowers, candles and incense. The krathongs are later release on water ways (mostly rivers) as a symbol of letting go problems, anger and sadness. In Chiang Mai, they also prepare lanterns with a message or wish and they release them to the sky. These are the lanterns we lighted and released. It was great to see them go and participate in something so traditional.
Well, we didn’t end the evening there. Once we went back to town, we pay a visit to the night market. This is an incredible place. There were so many things to see. I loved Chiang Mai. We returned to the hotel kind of early. We had to prepare for an next day’s adventure.