2017 – Colorado -Telluride and the way home to Utah

After our stay in Ouray we drove back to Ridgeway which is not in the mountains. but by the mountains. Then turned towards Telluride. Our B&B hosts told us to park by the edge of Telluride on the right. There is a free parking lot. Then you just walk into downtown, which seemed a little bigger that the towns we saw before. Restaurants, shops, as usual in a tourist and skiing town. But the biggest attraction is its free gondola! Nowhere else there is a free gondola as far as I have heard. Not one-  even two of them.  The first lift is very steep and a little scary. Then the gondola stops on the top of the mountain ridge: From there the mountain bikers are riding down. There is a restaurant there with good views. Then the gondola goes down to the other side of the ridge, to the Mountain Village, which is not a village in its classical sense, but a concoction of rich condos. On the way you see the ski tracks for the winter and the surrounding mountains: And once you get out of that gondola and you are not the one who stays in one of the condos  you do not have much to do there. So you go to another gondola, which takes people just over the tops of the condos to a food store-  what a way to go shopping! 🙂 You see the lavish life style in full swing under you and that is the attraction. I guess. Also – you can hike down from the food store-  the hike is not steep. So here you go – taking gondolas was our fun in Telluride. Once there -we drove to the very deep end of it and saw a peculiar thing-  a big house built very close to a waterfall on a steep cliff, with no roads leading to it-  I wonder?!I guess you have to stay in a town to fall in love with it.  But it would be hard to love so many towns :-).  So we drove out of Telluride and towards Cortez. Rt. 145 on the map is shown as a scenic road and it was. Very very scenic. But there we heavy clouds and we were tired, so we didn’t stop for every good view. However, we stopped in Rico – it has an authentic house turned into a hostel or a hotel – it was pleasant to walk in its empty corridors and hear the ghosts. It has a wild hot spring close by:But once we came – there was a company of 5 soaking in it. so the math didn’t work for us…So we drove to Cortez where hotels on its North side are much more expensive than the ones on the South side :-). We picked American Holiday Mesa Verde Inn – it was in front of the restaurant Mi Mexico – that we remembered from long ago – and it was a good choice! The hotel was very quiet and the restaurant served very good Mexican food! We wanted to go to Mesa Verde – but after some analysis figured out that we had no time for it-  it takes at least a day or two to see it well, the drives are long there and you have to take excursions if you want to see at least one of the ancient houses or towns, whatever they were. So we chose to visit Howenweep NM instead. Therefore the next morning we drove on a small road through the Canyons of the Ancients  NM and stopped and walked in one stop. Didn’t walk much –  had no time. But walking on this sandstone was pleasant and it would be a good idea to stay somewhere close by there and hike and hike:Because all this area is full of signs of Ancient Indians living there! Here is the Howenweep NM – it is a canyon where life flourished ages ago. They have a few structures still standing, as those Twin Towers, and a few mysteries still lingering:Then  the drive was long…We listened to a book about Albert Einstein, a really good one, but still. We saw Mexican Hat on the way and the the Monument Valley with the place on the highway where everyone stops and takes pictures. Why – because Forest Gump stopped his long run through the US exactly there! THen we noticed that the glorious Mittens of the Monument Valley are eroding, they have lost their ‘thumbs’ and do not look like mittens any more…But the rock that looks like a mountain from a fairy tale –  still looks inspiring:Then a little stop by this monstrosity of the Hydro power station of Lake Powel:And we returned home to our super hot summer, to our permanent irrigation and tending our peaches and tomatoes!

 

2017 – Colorado – Silverton

Our best and most efficient day was Sunday   -we hiked the Perimeter trail in Ouray till we reached the waterfall, then swam in the Hot springs pool, before that we saved a turtle who climbed up from his pond and almost got on a busy road. The turtle expressed his gratitude by peeing on me profoundly…:-)Then we jumped into our car and drove to Silverton on a Million Dollar highway. It was impressive! There are some very orange mountains on top of Ouray, they look like in Utah, but with a lot of rain, and from those mountains an orange stream is flowing: There were mines along he road and descriptions of them that they mine all the possible metals here and the underground tunnels are 100 mi long… This was a beautiful landing from a pass, with Silverton already very close:It is also like in a goblet – all surrounded by mountains. But its ‘goblet’ is much wider that the one of Ouray’s. And so I felt much more  spacious there. Those instruments set up in a little town park had a soothing and healing sound! Here we ate a funnel cake! But they also have other foods, too. This green cross means  “healing with the help of weed” :-): The is the train station – it is a famous train that goes from Durango to Silverton through the mountains and Canyons. I guess  -it is a lot of fun! But it was not in our plans this time. On the way out of Silverton we drove a little towards Durango for the views:You can see Silverton down below far away.  But the road was being fixed, there were some waits there and also it looked scarier for me that the Million Dollar road to Ouray, so we turned back to Ouray. All in all – Silverton is well worth of a visit whether by train or a car, and to my taste-  it seemed the most beautiful of all the towns we visited. But beauty is not the only reason we visit places…

2017-Colorado – Ouray

From Irvin Lake campground we noticed that there is a more straight road towards Gunnison, but we had to give it up after a short try – it was too narrow and bumpy. So we returned to Crested Butte, which is about 12mi from the campground and were pleased that the road leading to Gunnison was wide and paved. In Gunnison, we walked a little, had a very rich in calories  and cheeses cowboy lunch and headed towards Montrose. The drive was beautiful, partially by artificial lakes: and there was a road to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but we didn’t turn towards there. And then we again found ourselves on the plains. Colorado is in our imagination a state of mountains, but it seems that mountains occupy just a little part of it in patches. Montrose is also a western cowboy town. very similar as was Gunnison. But it has a Nepalese buffet! Wow, what a loss. We were so full after our cowboy lunch. And after the drive to Ridgeway is on plains, only there you start seeing mountains. You head towards them and here you are – in a goblet called Ouray: The main attractions of Ouray are hiking, of course, and also the hot springs! They bring the warm water from hot springs somewhere further and up the mountains and fill the new pools with it. For my joy there was a lap pool. But for soaking – there are several extensive pools of creative shapes. In Ouray we stayed at this Bridal Veil B&B, the left side of the duplex:It was one of the best B&Bs we ever stayed at! WE had the whole first floor, meaning a bedroom and a bathroom and the entrance hall – how much more can we need. It was quiet, we were fed upstairs with super fancy breakfasts, which were spoiling us tremendously and kicking us out of our healthy eating habits. The owners Connie and Greg were very pleasant and informative. Connie tended for 36 orchids in their home! And Greg is a big hiker and a canioneering specialist. Here are their orchids and Connie’s breakfasts. Each day we had a different orchid on the table matched with the foods and plates served: The pictures of Ouray are from he Primeter trail. Yes, there is a trail on the edges of the mountains surrounding Ouray. but we had no time to do the whole thing, we did only a part of it (but a scary one) till we reached the falls: The first evening Andrei went to a hotel with a complicated German name and spent half an hour in their peculiar hot springs   -they have a cave under the hotel and you can enter it only if you haven’t smoked for 3 months and also if you buy a ticket :-). Smoking was not the reason I didn’t go. I just felt tired. Saved my energy for tomorrow’s swimming in the main hot sprigs pool!Here are some pictures of Ouray town: The building on the right is an opera house! Here is the interior of the hotel we see on the left: We did some more hiking on the last morning, but very little, so much more is left for another time! Very big crevices in Colorado, I would say – they are scary to those who have sensitivity to it. We also drove to Silverton for a short visit, but that is in another post!

 

2017- Colorado – Crested Butte

Very soon after you pass Peonia laying in its beautiful valley, you enter the mining area of Colorado. After you pass a big coal mine you turn right onto a dirt road. But a well maintained road, recently spread with oil. Ane here you are-  Colorado mountains:

It is 30 miles to Crested Butte on that road. But at first we turned towards Irvin Lake Campground to secure a place to sleep. Our camp place #20 had this view:What can be more beautiful?So we took pictures of this small lake in the evening, in the morning and sat by it consuming its beauty! But as always in life-  nothing is for free. That campground had smelly toilets and a lot of mosquitoes! And no running drinking water or any water except the lake. The price – $18 per night. So we didn’t waste our time and drove down to Crested Butte to see the town and the Wildflower festival. This is what our car was showing on the way down, we never saw it before:I will point- almost 200 miles per gallon of gas! Our little Prius-  we love it! WE saw the town, but we didn’t see the festival :-).  As there was an abundance of non-wild flowers in town – we didn’t miss it.: As you can see – there was no lack of flowers  and lots of them reminded me of my garden in Lithuania, especially this pink old fashioned flower that my Grandma loved: All in all Crested Butte seemed to me one of the most attractive towns in Colorado. Funny as it s-  there is a distillery of Rum – the bring sugar canes from somewhere South to this little town crested amid mountains and peaks – and make alcohol, an interesting business venture. And you can sample the rum for free! The other reason I liked Crested Butte most of all -there was a number of peculiar shops, especially this one where Asian antiques were mingling with SteamPunk art: Again – flowers and flowers.  Also – this town attracted several families form Nepal  -therefore two-or three Nepalese  restaurants! Here is the Nepalese waitress we liked so much:Whatever was left of the day we wanted to hike a little. So we drove towards where the hikes are. Andrei prepared to find them form the internet.  CRested Butte is considered a wild flower capital of Colorado, but from our small experience – nothing beats Alta area in Utah in that sense: They like  signs like this. It sais No Parking Waiting, picking up From Now and Forever…It makes hiking long 🙂 Doesn’t this lake look like is is bending? And the flowers are wilting, for it was a big drought  then: I love this picture:Then we returned to our campground and started the fire to bake potatoes and Andrei’s sausages:As I couldn’t pick the nicest picture of ‘our” lake-  I several of them for your judgement-  in the evening, in the morning:    They looked like little tulips by the lake… And the last pic of CB:

 

Thailand 2017 – from Sukhotai to BKK and home

Sukhotai airport demands a separate blog. It was beyond all expectations. We decided not to suffer a long trip in a bus and to fly 1 h flight to Bangkok with Bangkok airlines. Good. But the airport was peculiarly far away form the Old and New cities – it took us an hour with a taxi shuttle, which picks you at your hotel. Once we came closer to it- I saw this temple shining in all its grandeur: Then the airport seemed to be something not regular – it had gardens, elaborate flower beds, semi precious stones, sculptures, wood creations and more. But they only bring you there half hour before your flight-  when to find time to see all that abundance of interesting things. There were also cafeterias, but I didn’t see a hotel – lots of questions started vibrating in my head – why all of that?Those decorative chairs seemed to be made form some jungle tree roots, I guess they are brought from somewhere far away…Table and chairs form semiprecious  stones:The museum of religions and Buddhism: A small copy of Ankgor Wat: And ancient kiln: So I asked the only guy who spoke English and was standing by the check-in counter – who built all this and why? have in mind – that the airport serves only 3 flights a day.  He explained  – a rich doctor had a dream to build all those beauties and he did it. The Airways belong to  his company as well as the airport-town. I bet that doctor is a really good one and his patients are Americans :-). But what a wonderful dream to have and to have it fulfilled! I will never forget it. What a generous doctor – to share his dream with others. We tried to count- there are no profits from this enterprise to him at all/ Once we entered the secure zone – there was a buffet table all covered with drinks and finger foods. Then in that 1 h flight we were fed well, and one ticket costed $40…Even the side of runway all the way was planted with flowers: From rags to riches. that how the saying goes. We flew from riches to rags. Bangkok airport was very crowded, then the Dwell hotel shuttle took us to the hotel, which is the closest to the airport and most praised on the internet. Yes, the hotel itself was nice and modern and had a free shuttle service to BKK airport:But look at the surroundings…It is in a swamp, literally. where people dump their stuff. Nevertheless we, being big walkers, walked some 1.5 mi to where there was civilization and a market to buy some spices. Our receptionist widened her eyes when we said we are going for a walk. But – we saw a beautiful sunset, it wasn’t scary at all and had a good farewell with Thailand!

Thailand 2017 – Sukhotai

We have been to Sukhotai once many years ago and  already posted some photos of it then. But then I didn’t see much of it for I was not feeling well and Andrei was completely bed bound by his meniscus problem, so we decided to visit again the ancient Thai capital, one of them :-), and see what is left of it. So we took a bus from Phrae and in three hours or so we were in New Sukhotai. While on the road from the front top seat  the views were not bad: So from New Sukhotai we had to get to the Old one. That is where all the ruins are mostly concentrated. And that was a little tricky. Just a little There was a songthai waiting for us and we expected it to go the the Old town. But it started doing round trips on the highway, as sometimes they like to do, and then stopped in teh center of the New town to wait for more tourists. After a long trip on a bus I get impatient, my problem. So once we came to the Old town, which is half hour away  -we checked into the Old Town Guesthouse by sentiment. Yes, it is in perfect location, the closest to the biggest ruins and restaurants and all. It looks also very authentic and inviting. And last time we had a room in a one story section, that was a perfect room. This time the room was OK, but the noise…Not a big noise, but as i noticed – all rooms in one section of the hotel are separated only by a thin board wall and we could hear everything from 2 rooms on both sides-  even the cracking of a plastic bag…Not speaking about a lot of French talk, and when you don’t understand a word – it gets annoying :-).  That evening we rushed to see the main part of the ancient capital, and to admire the sunset there and also something unexpected. Those ruins are mostly the temples and Chedis, because everything else was not built from sturdy materials and perished. And lots of them are restored and turned into a well preserved and cared park: What an interesting  tree – such a long and horizontal branch like a tentacle of a giant squid:One temple there was built by Khmers –  in Ankgor Wat style:Andrei is intensively photographing: So we walked and we walked and enjoyed what we saw. As Thailand is mostly on swamps there are many ponds to catch the excess water and also to use it in the dry season  -which we experienced – it is very dry in winter!  Those ponds were so good for reflections! Here is a monument for the last King that Thais  were still mourning:The Chedis in a for of upside bell are considered built in the Shri Lankan style: And here is what we didn’t expect  -out Saturday surprise – we noticed little clay pots with candles set here and there on the ruins – once the sun sat   -some guys very fast ran around them and lit them  – it was like magic: My advice – try to be in Sukhotai on Saturday, only then they lit the candles. The eve we visited the shops and restaurants that we remembered from last time. enjoyed the foods we liked last time and planned where to stay the next nights. Because of scarce availability we ended up staying one night in Thai Thai Sukhotai resort and then the last 2 nights in Sawadee Sukhotai Resort. Bot were very good! They ae not very close to the ruins. You have to take a taxi to get there, but they are all in one cluster and there are some restaurants close by. But still  -to get to the man part of the town you have to walk on a busy highway or drive a bike or take a taxi. But everything else was super! Here are the receptionists,  the corridor of Tai Tai Sukhotai and its pool: But the next morning we didn’t waste our time – we rented bikes and drove to another part of the ancient capital with other but similar ruins and  views:This one has a lot of elephants at the bottom. A peculiar tree – no leaves, just blooms: To  think about how many people worked with good intentions to make so many bricks. then to build so many structures, and then how they admired their temples, how they prayed and felt their hearts uplifted…To me those ancient temples are still emanating pleasant and positive energy, but you can argue :-). Here we found a garden with newly built temples. It had peculiar sayings written on trees.  One read: “Facts are stubborn things”. Then there was another Temple area:  And very slim cows – but there was a lot of grass… The last two days and nights we spent in the Sawadee Resort cottage, and that was beyond amazing! I can’t recommend it more! Both resorts served wonderful buffet breakfasts, both had super nice staff, but to have your own cottage in a spacious manicured garden with views to the fields and far away mountains-  nothing beats that! The housekeepers: The gardener: Elephants everywhere: The pool  – in the hot weather it was perfect to have a chance to swim:The last day we again drove bikes around the town, through farming fields, saw remnants of temples here and there – it had been a big city in a big kingdom: THat evening glow was so amazing all the 4 evenings we were there! It reminded me of my childhood summer eves in Lithuania, minus the ruins :-): Poor cows…This bull  -maybe they raise it for its ears…Here it was a shocking experience. There is a pond and a temple on the island in it in the very center of Old town. So we walked, looked at the Buddha foot there, then walked towards the water edge  because of some noise – those catfish were eating with chop-chop sounds and so many of them, they were crawling all over – plain unbelievable! No wonder there were so many fried catfish for sale in the farmers market. How beautifully the roots have overgrown an old structure: Andrei’s pet:

Thailand 2017 – Phrae

Phrae in tourist books is described as a Thai analog to Luang Prabang in Laos. And also as a town of super nice people. How can you resist such descriptions while it was also on our way to Sukhotai. There are lots of buses going that direction belonging to at least three companies. We picked a big fancy double-Decker and got the very front top seats. It was a beautiful 3 h drive. Unlike than in Phayo -there were taxi drivers waiting for us at the station and we were taken to our hotel  with a strange name Come Moon. Seems like Thai people were studying English but didn’t learn well enough. But were smart and skillful enough to build a really good hotel! Two stories only not sticking out from the surrounding old style buildings, but with a modern zest!Steel glass and concrete! And very very grey, oh it looked good with any color you bring into the room: Very good for rest, for cooling off after our usual long walks and this time – bike rides. And it had breakfast  -some dishes were traditional Thai, like breakfast soup, some were American – like toasts and jam and fruit. I so much recommend this place for your stay there! “Come Moon”  -and only $22/night, how can they pay off their building… The location is perfect  -just immediately behind the moat and the surrounding wall, in a quiet neighborhood and there was even a pizza place which we didn’t notice the first afternoon. Yes, we came, settled and felt so hungry, so we ran towards the center in search for food and because we were so hungry – evidently we couldn’t see well, so we missed a couple of restaurants. then reached the center where they were closing early with the idea that everybody eats at the so called Night market – if a town is not touristy, then do not expect dozens of restaurants around you like in Chang Mai. Locals like to eat out. And they jump onto their motorcycles and drive to the Night market which opens way before darkness comes. They are so not eager to cook at home, that lots of them drive to buy already cooked food for their families that they get packed into plastic bags! and drive home to eat. Yes, hot food in plastic bags, hard to comprehend…Poor people, they need some education. We ate there from paper plates. That is better. But as many street foods as we experienced – nothing beats the Sunday Market in Chang Mai, nothing. Here those would be my signature pictures of Phrae: As we figured out the next day – the best way to walk there is not the direct route to the center, but on side streets, especially the ones that led us by the remnants of the ancient city wall and the moat. In some places there is a path to walk on that hill that the city wall was built on. From there the view towards numerous temples was amazing, and also for the sunset. And yes, there were lots of temples like in Luang Prabang, but unlike in Luang Prabangthey they were scattered, not on some main drag, and also – there was no touristy flair as in LP, which creates some celebratory holiday atmosphere. As for the people – they were the same nice as in other cities or towns, they are Thais, that is why we go and enjoy their country and their hospitality, their patience and putting up with us! In one of the yards I saw those horses made from driftwood – they reminded me Tamra’s horses in her yard in our Town Rockville. Which reminded me that we are all the same, very much the same, people of this planet. Even our tastes, aesthetics, methods of creating coincide, being from so far apart! Here are not one but two crematoriums, of which we haven’t seen non till we reached this part of the country. They usually have them here in a remote temple garden with some dining spaces for the relatives who, as we noticed usually celebrate their deceased while his or hers spirit is flying out a chimney.We spent three nights there which means we had two full days and were not bored at all. During mid day it is better to stay home and read for the heat is scorching. But mornings and evenings were glorious! We drove on bikes to the river which is not very spectacular, but it is a river: WE especially enjoyed this temple with lots of shooting towards the sky decors. To give you the size of the reclining Buddha I sat by his side: Maybe  I took too many pictures of this architectural concept of striving for the Absolute or becoming Buddha or Bodhisattva, or at least sending your wishes to the Universe  – but I couldn’t help myself, it was so plain beautiful!In the temple – here is what we saw – flags made from 5 20baht money bills dangling from the ceiling – the way of raising money in an aesthetic way: There were many other temples, there were also prominent old houses with a lot of wood carving decors, so cozy, so pleasant: This a different Chedi, not like I  showed before. But my aiming was not good: As we all know the sunset brings out warm orange glow onto surfaces-  this time a bunch of totem poles and a big tree: This a a rather strange temple by a busy street. It looks like this from the back:  Then you take off your shoes, climb with care (low ceiling) one of the 3 staircases, turn around and find yourself in front of this: I happened to be there at the exact time that my aunt in Lithuania was being buried, a sad situation for me, so I lit a special candle for her, at least… Here it shows how Thais revere their prominent monks who have reached the Buddha or Bodhisattva state and have done good deeds for their people. Going on a bike we could see more temples on the outskirts, or this close to the bus station, which was all wood and as in old times it was still used for crafts, weaving, embriodering, umbrella making, etc: I can’t issue a blog without at least one flower picture :-): Here is only one small pat of a long , very long fresco in one of the temples. Usually they have frescoes not in the main building, but in the side walls that enclose the temple gardens. This one was interesting to me because it described all their celebrations through the year, especially the full moon and the figures in it were all in motion, all vivid:

Thailand 2017 – Phayo

Why did we pick Phayo to go next? Because it seemed not so far from Chang Mai to the East, because it is by a big lake, not touristy and has a couple of handsome hotels between which it was had to decide…We wanted some real rest from Chang Mai’s noise and crowds and too much to do. But there are always some not so fancy features about traveling. The main rule is to take only the fastest bus. The slow ones are super slow and really not for us, spoiled people. So there were only two buses going to Phayo from Ch-M  -at 8 am and at 4:30pm. As we had to buy some presents in Ch-M still in the morning. we took the later bus and I hoped it will reach the destination before the sunset, but we came in pitch dark…There were traffic jams going out of the city, the bus started 1 later than it had to. all in all  -it took us 3.5h to get there on winding hill roads, but not so pretty as one can expect. There were no taxis in the bus station, so good old GPS was helping us to reach the very center of the the town and the hotel – we were walking and dragging our bags, no problem. Until a nice young Thai couple decided to give us a ride. The hotel we picked  – Phunlong – is on the very very center on the bank of the lake, good location and a very fancy one. Such a room in West would cosl no less than $150-$200 pe rnight. maybe even $300 as some Dutch people mentioned. Here in Thailand the difference between a fancy hotel and a so so one is $20. Interesting. For those 2 nights I can say  – we splurged! We payed $45 per night with the fanciest breakfast buffet we ever got in Thailand and look at our room: The bed was the softest one we ever experienced in Thailand, and the view from our balcony was like this: Yes, I was very sorry to have missed this sunset the first night. It was only the second evening we could enjoy it from everywhere – the room, the boat, the lakeside walk. The view to the other side of the lake-  there was a little island with a tiny temple on it: So we started the next day with a wonderful breakfast and then a usual long walk around the town, by the lake, enjoying bougainvilleas of which there was plenty!  Here we found a nice B&B and i am holding its sign – if you do not want to splurge and pay 2 times less – i is a perfect place, we even checked the rooms. Super clean, and very close to the lake front.  I lked this not overdecorated temple and a little sacred pig in front! Boy how lusciously Crowns of Christ bloom there! A Chinese temple-  they seem to have a pretty big Chinese population and live with them in peace – Chinese ran to Thailand after or during their Socialist Revolution: There is also a nice town park:And temples being built: With creatures devouring each other: And a school yard under this big roof  -what a good idea in a hot country! As it was enough of walking I took a boat to the little island, it was a fantastic quiet ride, with no wind, no motor, just a oar and a magic light surrounding us. See the little garden that monks tend on that island  -you can see cabbages, saladsI guess the orange ribbons are for the wishes to be fulfilled. And I guess that the tree is magical: Hen after a short rest we again entered the night in town searching for food which was not as good as it was in Chang Mai…Maybe we didn’t find the right places. There were illuminations here and there, there were Chinese people doing Tai Chi and line dancing on the lake front -in totality – a very very pleasant atmosphere!

You can see a lot of fish in the water – we were amazed how many of there there were! they were staying by the surface of the water in the afternoon – maybe because the water gets too warm. Maybe they grasp for oxygen  -it has to be said that the lake is an artificial one and very very shallow. And the water is very dirty…I was dreaming we will swim in the lake-  no way…But fish live there and fishermen are catching them in the dark. And everyone seems to be happy. Only while leaving the hotel to go back to the bus station – I took this picture really fast…it is the tallest building in town – maybe some 9 stories high! wow! And looks like it doesn’t belong here :-). Like some giant cut a top from a hotel in Las Vegas and landed it here. There is another similar hotel, but a little further form the center and is better fit to those who drive a car. They have a nice swimming pool, I checked it and next time we are staying there! Renting a car and driving around the lake! But this time we had not enough time. 

Thailand 2017 – Chang Mai

It was the third time we visited Chang Mai and it seems there is a reason why  -we like it so much! Together with lots of other people, so it got very crowded…That is the feeling you get once you are taken with Taxi or walk from the minivan stop not far from Tha Pae Gate. The hotel we reserved through Booking.com was called Bahn Mi – in a nice little street with a British owner which was a really nice bonus – he could tell us some things about Thailand and give some advice. Chang Mai seems to be densely full with restaurants and interesting shops and massage places. This time we found a really good vegetarian restaurant, and I enjoyed a really good massage by the same lady in a temple garden every day! In fact she helped me a lot with my knee, which started swelling the very first day I walked a lot in Bangkok and the whole trip made me use a cane and bandage. For your information 1 h Thai massage costs there 150 bt. And during my trip I never got as good one anywhere. As I figured out later – it is not only one temple that offers its grounds for massage therapists, here are at least three of them. So one gets spoiled in Chang Mai…Here is the cafe where we liked to eat not only because of the food, but because they have a shelf with books which tourists can exchange and also get ideas for their further travels form Thailand tourist books:One of the weird shops that sells so many different things and cow bells are among them, their sound is pleasant: I don’t see, I don’t hear, I don’t smell – it is meaningful for Thais: Only one temple had so many orchids around it and it was the closest to our house. Its main Buddha was lit in bright changing colors. Here are the orchids: This is the view from a very shabby but very tasty organic vegetarian cafe Bodhi Tree  -it is literally under the Bodhi tree: We planned our trip to be in Chang Mai on Saturday. I wanted to go to Doi Suthep temple some 1 hour away higher on a hill side and see the little Thai girls dancing. Well, I had to be disappointed. They are not permitted to dance by that temple or maybe all the other temples any more. What a loss – it was the most beautiful manifestation of Thai culture…But when we took the special taxi to there  -we didn’t know that. Our first stop was the Zoo, which pleasantly surprised, how nice it was, how good the conditions for the animals were (considering that it still is not freedom) and what a variety of animals they had: Always gloomy: Always happy: There were cucumbers for sale in little baskets to be fed to this elephant  -and boy he wanted them! After he finished eating – he lost every interest in me. Poor thing, with his legs chained… The Zoo is not on a horizontal plain, far from that. So it involves going up and down its roads. There is also  an Aquarium, but we had no time to visit it-  we were rushing like crazy to get to Doi Suthep in time, not to miss the girl dances…See the crowds going up to Doi Suthep…It was their holiday  -Big Buddha Day and not only tourists, but Thais, too, go to visit this temple with the main golden Chedi know for it houses Buddha’s bone. But those girls were not dancing, only posing for pictures on the stairs and that was that, cute: This time I looked more attentively to the frescoes on the temple inner walls and liked them a lot! Especially their color scheme: White elephants in Thailand are considered sacred and are kept only for the use of their kings. But this one has even a story  -it came here by itself, turned around three times and trumpeted three times, which Thais transcribed as a sign to build a temple which they did.  What a strange Bodhi tree – fruits grow from its trunk. Each temple has a Bodhi tree-  a big and old one, a sacred one.  Here is the view from our hotel balcony – lots of guys playing pool in a bar and drinking beer – so it was the main shortcoming of our hotel – the noise lasted till 12 am, but only till then and for us those Big Buddha Days (because those were Saturday and Sunday and the moon was full and red!) was a savior for 2 nights-  alcohol was forbidden those two days and nights and therefore the bar was closed, yey! For the Big Buddha Days monks decorated their temples in colors and with diligence: Houses where ordinary people live: One of the mornings we decided to check the south side of the downtown, which is enclosed in moats. We walked on small streets following the route with most temples towards West  -it was a pretty one: But best of all were our findings of lots of other small hotels and hostels that were not in the area where bars were making noises. So we made notes for the next time. And that is my advice for silence seekers. That direction leads to the Town park on the very SW corner and that park is very cozy in the heat of a day: Evidently this year the park is decorated with a variety of elephants, but it also had large amounts of flowers just brought there after a recent Flower festival which we missed. So at least we saw their flowers here: On the way back we entered one of the temples and here is what a fresco we saw there. Maybe it is like a warning against alcohol, cigarettes, but what are those different warms with people faces doing in the man’s insides? A usual combination of cacti here and there: This is a promenade in the Tamarind hotel – a fancy one. But I noticed that they always have an interesting exhibit of ethnic people that live in the hills and keep on to their folk ways of lives: And the last impression about Chang Mai was as usual –  the Sunday market. never miss that! it starts when the sun is still shining, but towards the evening. At that time it is still manageable to walk through it and look around. later in the evening such a mass of tourists come, that the street becomes like a packed bus:This band of blind people I saw even 7 years ago…They usually set up in the middle of the street and it is kind of dangerous – they can be stepped of pushed.  Everyone is trying to collect some money… The side streets turn into super massive massage parlors – mostly men are on the chairs – not to waste time while their women are shopping :-): And the close-by temple gardens turn into food courts. What a variety of foods one can try there! And so cheap! It is a big celebration for all your senses! But better to bring your own food box or plate – in that way we can all try to lower the amount of waste this poor Earth is accumulating from us.

Thailand 2017 – Lamphun

What a big break I did between the trip and this description. When I came back home to Utah it was so busy. Lots of guests, lots of garden work, and it distracted me. Right now it is the very heat of the summer and we are closed to survive this natural disaster time. At the same time – it is appropriate to connect with the hot weather we had in Thailand and to continue my travel descriptions. I am reading a book by Isaakson about Einstein’s life and his scientific works – and with their diligence and consistency they both inspired me to finish what is unfinished, that is my Thailand my blog. So here it is – we took a bus ride from Phang-Nga to Phuket – we needed to get to the airport, not the city. So the bus let us out on the highway and not on the right side of it. They said they are not permitted to drive to the airport, for the taxi drivers need work and only they can take us to the place. But it was not so easy to get a taxi – luckily there was a traffic jam and we could try to talk to drivers and ask them to send us a taxi. The taxi person drove to where our bags were and then he got out of the car – yes, he put our bags in to his car, but also started changing his clothes – which was a little strange at first – he even put on nice socks and shoes and uniform pants and jacket – evidently they don’t let drivers without nice shoes to enter this “precious” airport. So here we are on a flight to Chang Mai – very good views of the seashores of the parts of Thailand that we visited. If I remember correctly – it was around a 1.5 -2 hour flight. And they feed you, of course! There in Chang Mai we already had a shuttle ride ordered   – a person named Om came to meet us from Lamphun ant drove around 40 min to the town south of Chang Mai. That was the plan – Om is running a B&B in Lamphun. The Pick Baan B&B is in two traditional Thai houses, which is on “legs” by a gardens with lots of trees and bird songs. Ideal!Seemed like ideal. In the very center of this marvelous temple town, nice architecture and we were alone! That saved us. Because when we figured out how the floors squeak, how you can hear every noise outside and under your floors where the living area is – it would be impossible to enjoy neighbors :-). But we were alone and the breakfast was traditional Thai, everything was good enough, the AC worked.  I felt sorry for the poor thing AC – there were such holes in the floors that the cool air escaped  and the mosquitoes entered, and therefore I am not suggesting for you to stay there unless you are patient like us and value such aspects as authenticity. To add insult to injury – every morning when my sleep is the most pleasant that is at 7:30 am – I was woken up by radio anchor’s voice from a loudspeaker, for exactly half hour, directed almost to our ears. Reminded me of living in a dictator’s country…But on the good side  – there was a rather strange hippie type restaurant arranged right in that little lane at the end of which out B&B was. So we had to eat there – they were super nice, super without customers and the food was good.  Here I am at that little outdoors facility, very tired after day’s walkings, posing with the owner: Lamphun seemed not to have a normal restaurant that we expected.  Except for that one by our B&B. Well then we noticed that there is a touristy area on the other side of the town where there are hotels and eateries for visitors. But there were almost no tourists in town- only us and some two three buses during the day by the main temples.  So here is the main Temple   -Wat Prathat Hiriphunchai  – in the morning sun, in the evening sun, with the moon, with the main Chedi around which we walked three times as all the few visitors were doing, with the monks chanting every evening and with very beautiful buildings and frescoes in them, etc.: This is the so called Library where they keep the most sacred Buddhist scriptures. The next morning we took an excursion the town offers. A driver takes you through town to two prominent historical houses and maybe some 9 temples, so you do not need to walk in the heat. The excursion costs 100 bt and with the dollar costing 30 bt – not expensive at all. Having in mind that we would have been only us in the bus if not for that Thai single woman who was celebrating her birthday. I guess in her honor the driver was talking loud and a lot in Thai language, leaving us to wait for peace and quiet. And the booklet they handed was also in Thai, almost everything. But i understood, that we saw some noble man’s house:Then the house where their previous queen lived, a very modest one with squeaking floors: And a monument to a more previous Queen Chamadevi, who helped to establish Lamphun or something along those lines. Seems like they do not need Feminism, their women seem to have enough rights and respect, though take it as a joke – I have no clue what is going on now in their society in this regard.  So here our Thai lady of the bus did what I really do not support – she bought little birdies in a super small cage and let them out – yes. it is good to let the birdies out, but it is not good to support this crazy practice of catching birdies and keeping in the heat through the day by temples with the idea that some good person will free them…If there were no buyers, the sellers gradually would look for something not so alive to sell. Some Thais still believe that by saving the birds you get your wishes fulfilled or turn some fortune your way. Our bus lady also bought three water turtles fished from nearby canals…and she was carrying the poor creatures  in plastic bags for the rest of the excursion till the driver sopped by some more remote canal so that the turtles would not end up in another plastic bag again. Here is our yellow bus behind the elephant sculptures:Then as I already mentioned we were driven in a bunch of temples, the driver would stop and let us walk around. They were all beautiful, interesting, but the heat…Some temples had old Chedis on their grounds, like very old, some had new buildings built in their already very crammed sacred gardens: This temple was especially elaborate with such delicate plaster works covering all surfaces. It reminded me of Lithuanian wedding cakes that our girls made for competitions and won prizes. The most sacred Buddha here is the small one on top of the arch, and there is a glass ball in front of big Buddha which people touch when they visit-  so we did, too :-). I guess – it was for good luck, what else can it be.  To be in such a clean pristine temple alone – I think it is more than rewarding… Here is one of those feminist altars, as I called them. Our friend Alison who is a devoted and knowledgeable Buddhist said she is not quite satisfied how women are considered in Buddhism. So this altar is specially for her: And if you don’t see well in this small picture – they are all women! They like to make their monk-dolls. This is a cell where monks live and it shows how they sleep on a wooden pillow. But why the bed-pan is not under the leg part of the bed? Nobody to ask… One temple is dedicated to some heroic elephant who saved some king of theirs. The elephant’s ashes are in this Chedi  and then there is like an elephant park – very comparable to the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. There are so many big and small elephants all over on the walls and posts and a big one in the center to go under him three times-  you guessed – for good luck! So we did it.  The last temple had several ancient structures, one of which, the Chedi had a warning for the women not to climb! Men could. As our bus lady explained to me – women are dirty at times during the month, so that is why. But why not after they stop getting dirty – she had not answer, just laughed. That is where the equal rights end…on the steps of a weathered Chedi:The interesting part about this temple is tat if you visit it – you will live a 100 years. But I didn’t know it then, only now I read in a booklet. So I guess that to me it doesn’t apply… They definitely have no lack of imagination for creatures. You will ask – and where do ordinary people live there? Here are a couple houses from the street:  A graveyard also by a Chedi  on temple grounds  – my guess it is only for rich and noble: Statues of prominent monks in temples look like wax figures that belong to Madam Tussaud: One temple had two of those topless women by their entrance, quite strange, maybe just a little:Here are the views of the river in town: Here a covered bridge is seen in the distance – yes, like in Florence, they have a covered bridge filled with little shops. In conclusion  -I would highly recommend to visit Lamphun, if not for several days then at least for one – the micro buses leave for Lamphun in Chang Mai by the Flower market and it takes only half an hour to 40 min to get there. In that way you can escape all the crowds and have temples and the walks in town just for yourself!