Oct 3 - Doi Suthep

After a short 20 baht song-taew (this is a public truck taxi; it's a pickup truck with two facing bench seats in the back bed; fares are usually published, but if not, can be negotiated) ride, we transferred to another song-taew going up the mountain (doi) to Wat Phrase That (known as Wat Suthep), a 40 baht fare each way. The road wound 15 kms up the mountain, eventually coming to a large car park near the temple complex. The original temple was built around 1380. There are 300 steps going up the Naga Serpent Staircase, ending at the golden spire and various temples and shrines. The White Elephant shrine and Emerald Buddha statue are found there, as well as numerous plaques and offering sites. Folks taken up round-trip by the red song-taew were given 1.5 hours to view the area, which we felt was just long enough. There are other paid rides to several waterfalls, the Royal Palace at Phra Tamank Phu Ping (the winter palace with it's surrounding gardens) and other trekking trails. You could spend an entire day thruout the National Park and enjoy the beauty. We returned to the Chang Puak Gate (the north gate), and walked around the perimeter of the old city, an area we hadn't explored before. We ended up eating lunch at a...are you sitting down?....Mexican food restaurant. That's right...come to Chiang Mai and eat Mexican food? It sounds a bit incongruous, but the city is known for its diverse culinary delights and incredible number of international restaurants. The one we chose was, to be kind, OK...but we wouldn't recommend it to anyone. We've picked up our mini-van tickets to Pai, and leave Saturday morning for the more remote areas of the country.

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