Today we woke up reasonably early in order to ask our hotel if they could book our onward ticket to get us to our next destination – Sukhothai. This, seemingly simple task though appeared to be something of an impossibility and so it ended that we needed to go by Jeepney to the Arcadia bus station to actually book our bus ticket in person over the counter! This was not so much of a problem but more of a complete waste of time but we got our tickets sorted out quickly enough so then we could start the day proper.
The 3D Art Gallery was not too far off from the bus station so on we asked our Jeepney driver to drop us outside. Now this place was not exactly high on my priority list but it seemed to be a good opportunity for a photo or two so off we went. In front of the building there were huge toy soldiers as well as the word LOVE placed in huge red letters we passed on the way in. To be fair going round the place was quite a good bit of fun as here the viewer can become part of the main attraction.
Some of the images are a bit unconvincing and others do need a bit of imagination but other pictures are really quite good and well worth a chuckle or two, so fully worth the entrance fee in my book.
Some of the exhibits were quite interactive and based on fooling the eye or camera trickery and these put our very meagre acting talents to the test, so as you can imagine we failed these exhibits quite miserably at (lol). Still after a good deal of messing about here for a couple of hours we had seen all there was to see so went across the road to go and grab a bite to eat.
From the 3D gallery it was quite a long walk back to the old town especially in the sweltering heat of the day but a quick stop for a fruit smoothie drink soon recharged our batteries. Or next attraction was also today’s ‘Wat of the Day’ … Wat Chedi Luang. This Wat is a very nice place in its own right but here they had a thing called ‘Monk Chat’ which was a brilliant idea. I feel sure we could have chatted to the monks we saw at other Wats we have visited in SE Asia but because of who they are you tend to feel quite reserved but here it was being positively encouraged, we needed to try this out. A young monk of about 22-24 years of age was over in the ‘chatting area’, so we went over to give him a ‘grilling’! It turned out that he had been at the temple now for about 8 years and felt he still would be here for another couple of years. It turned out that though it was a big decision to become a monk it was an even bigger decision to leave the monastery. Looking at the young man I could see how living in the monastery where everything was so regulated day after day could institutionalise the monks, so what changes would they face going back to the outside world?
Our monk was a really nice guy and he could speak English very well which would certainly be useful when he left but although monks are not derided for actually leaving the priesthood I am sure that on the outside it would be hard for them and the monks as normal people would not be given any particular favours either. Whilst in the order they are very well respected, upon leaving the monastery it would be quite a different matter and if he made this momentous decision today he could be out of the place as quick as the following day. Liz also asked him if he ever saw a day when women would be allowed to become Buddhist monks and whilst he did see that day albeit a long way off, he saw them having a very different premises quite separate from the men’s, perhaps to keep any temptation there may be at arms length.
The Monk Chat had been most illuminating so now it was time to finish looking around the rest of the Wat. This was a cool place and the main attraction, the chedi (pagoda), even though it has been seriously damaged such that it is half it’s original size, it is still some impressive building and being damaged seems to make it even more beautiful if that makes sense – go see it to understand what I mean! Housed on the same site are Chang Mai’s city pillar, Wat Tao Pan and the chapel of the Reclining Buddha as well. All of this together makes this one of my all time favourites Wats – it will always be ‘Top of the Wats’ for me … lol!
By the time we had completed our visit to the Wat time was getting on and as tonight we had booked the Night safari at Chiang Mai Zoo we thought we had better rush back to the hotel to give us time to relax, eat and be ready for our collection from the place. As it happened it turned out that we needn’t have rushed because our guide was late, very late indeed we had nearly given up on him when he arrived and the worst was to come, he still had others to pick up! Not only was he late but he was also a right misery too with the charm of a rock, a slimy rock at that! We saw everything we needed to at the Safari but unfortunately it was all incredibly rushed.
We sat on the little Safari train and the animals would come up to the little train. Liz had bought some food via the strange system of putting credit on your ticket, which was also quite time consuming for customers like us, in a bit of a rush! Still it paid dividends later when the Giraffes – Liz’s favourite animals – came up and stuck their heads in the train and ate from her hand. It was just a pity my camera was not up to the task of taking good photos in poor light as we had some great opportunities. The Zoo was quite good and the animals seemed well looked after and we were informed by the Train’s guide that the Zoo had some good success with it’s breeding programmes. Zoos are quite an emotive issue for some people but I feel sure that until there is a sustained World policy to control population growth then, as there is only so much room on the planet that animals will always be the losers and in the meantime I want everything possible done to ensure all animal species are kept from extinction.
The only bit at the Zoo we did not see was some of the Tiger show but this was because in all the rush we had had no time to go to the toilet so went before the start of this show missing the beginning of it. The Zoo’s musical and somewhat colourful fountains were quite good to watch and to be fair the whole place had been good even though it was all a little too rushed for my liking. Should we have complained, well yes of course we should have but we have found ourselves on this tour to be just feel so chilled it did not seem worth our while, anyhow tomorrow we were to be pushing on for Sukhothai so what was the point in ending on a sour note, we had thoroughly enjoyed Chiang Mai, a place with a little bit of everything really.