Thailand: Bangkok & Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

After leaving Australia, I flew to Thailand for a month. My mother flew in as well and I showed her around the country. We started off in Bangkok.

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Wat Arun is a good starting point to show a first time visitor to Thailand. It is a very impressive temple and it involves a nice boat trip across the Chao Phraya River to Thonburi.
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Chao Phraya river by night.
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On the way up to Wat Saket (Golden Mount), one of my favourite temples in Bangkok.
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The stunning Loha Prasat.
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Loha Prasat. You can walk around here for hours and still, every time I’ve been here, I’ve been virtually on my own. It’s not on the tourist trail. Good.

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The Golden Palace in Bangkok, with Wat Phra Kaew.  It was my fourth visit to this place and it seems to get busier every time.  Rightfully so because few places on earth can match this place.  But I prefer the quieter times of my first visits.
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Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.  It is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.

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Guardians of the Golden Palace.
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The Golden Palace from outside its walls.
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Wat Pho is the oldest and largest (80.000 sq.m.) temple in Bangkok.  It houses more than thousand Buddha statues, more than any other temple in the country.

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The reclining Buddha, 15 meter high and 46 meter long.
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The Buddha’s feet are 3 m high and 4.5 m long.   The different panels on his feet are displaying auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified.  At the center of each foot is a circle representing a chakra or ‘energy point’.
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One of the many buildings inside Wat Pho.

The night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is very popular with tourists. I can’t understand why, because you miss all the scenery along the way, so we took the daytime train, leaving Hua Lampong train station at 8:30 am and arriving in Chiang Mai at 19:30. The last hour is still in darkness, which is a pity as it is the most beautiful part of the trip.

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Arriving in Chiang Mai in the evening, first priority is Thai food !!!
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Wat Chet Lin, a quiet temple in the centre of Chiang Mai.

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Wat Chedi Luang, also in Chiang Mai’s centre.  The fences around the temple weren’t there yet during my previous visits.  The toll of mass tourism.

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Wat Phra Sing. All this golden stupas were still white concrete stupa’s when I visited it years ago.
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Wat Phra Sing.

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More Wat Phra Sing.

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A must see when you are in Chiang Mai is Wat Doi Suthep, about 15 km outside the city in the surrounding hills.

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Black elephant statue on the way up to Doi Suthep.

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Wat Doi Suthep.

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A bit further up the hill, you’ll find Phu Phing (Bhubing) Royal Palace, built as a winter retreat for the Thai King.  The palace is closed for the public, but you can visit the gardens.

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Local dancers @ Wat Sri Suphan

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A temple I never visited, never even heard of during my previous visits to Thailand: Wat Sri Suphan.  The temple was originally built around 1500 to serve as the main temple for a silversmith village.  The process of completely covering the temple in silver only began in 2008 though.  By now, he temple is completely covered in silver, from the walls to the roof.

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We rented this little Honda to make a 2.200 km tour in Northern Thailand.
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Close to Chiang Mai is the mountain Doi Inthanon, Thailands highest peak.  It’s a national park.  A few kilometer before the top, you ‘ll find two remarkable pagodas: Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon.   They were built by the Royal Thai Air Force for King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthdays in 1989 and 1992, respectively.  Until recently, one had to climb the stairs to the pagoda, but nowadays, progression  is unstoppable and an escalator will bring you up there, if you wish.
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The highest point of Thailand: 2.565 meter, 33 centimeter and 4,1 mm above sea level.  Precise up to a tenth of a millimeter haha.
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From Doi Inthanon, we rode via Mae Cham towards Khun Yuam.

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Thung Bua Tong Fields 
These Mexican sunflowers begin to blossom only in November and early December (for a period of less than 40 days). 
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Mae Surin waterfall, the highest of Thailand.

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Some fantastic accommodation in Khun Yuam.
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Sunrise from the bungalow.

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Khun Yuam is very close to the border with Myanmar, which shows in the style of the temples you’ll find here.  This one is in a small village west of Khun Yuam.

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More Burmese style temples along the way from Khun Yuam north to Mae Hong Son.

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On arrival in Mae Hong Son, we first visited Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu, a pagoda at the top of a hill.
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Spectacular views from Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu.  You can see the small provincial capital Mae hong Son, the airstrip and the surrounding mountains.
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The lake in the centre of Mae hong Son.

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The Thai kitchen, by far the best in the world.
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43 kilometer north of Mae Hong Song, near the border with Myanmar, is the village Mae Aw, also know as Ban Rak Thai.  On the way, we’re passing a few waterfalls. The Chinese style town was established by Yunnanese (Yunnan is a southern Chinese province) Kuomintang fighters who fled from Chinese communist rule in 1949.
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It’s Thailand, it’s right on the border with Myanmar, but it’s all Chinese style here.
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The reservoir at Ban Rak Thai.
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Tea, lots and lots of tea.
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I think, anno 2019, they earn more from the tourist bungalows in the tea plantations as from the tea itself.

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Very beautiful flower, found in a bamboo forest.
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Flower detail.
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A bike, panniers…. freedom !!
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Su Tong Pae bridge, supposedly the longest teak bridge in Thailand.  It looks old but was built in 2012 only to make a connection between Wat Tham Poo Sa Ma, which you can see in the distance, and  locals of Ban Gung Mai Sak village.  During certain periods of the year, this rice fields are full with water, and the bridge makes life easier for the monks to visit the village, and  for the locals to reach the temple for making  merit  and visit to the temple for monk chat and praying.

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Four faced Buddha.
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Inside Wat Tham Poo Sa Ma.
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I guess this is to make wishes.
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Lots of wishes here 🙂

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Hear nothing, speak nothing, see nothing.

Next episode: Going from Mae Hong Song towards Chiang Rai along route 1095, hyped as the ‘hardest road of Thailand’ (it’s not), with supposedly 1864 curves, then from Chiang Rai to Sukhothai.

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