Photo Post 5: Chiang Dao’s ancient ruins and temples

The Chiang Dao Cave adventure is not to be missed, but its spectacular setting is worth a thorough exploration as well…

Doi Chiang Dao, the mountain that you see rising out of the mist in a couple of the pictures below is Thailand’s 2nd highest at 7,135 feet. (No, I didn’t get to climb it on this trip, perhaps next…)

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The story of  dragons and temples: Myth has it that a dragon approached a monk and about his desire to worship with him in the temple. The monk told him that dragons weren’t allowed inside the temple, but they are welcome to guard the temples. Throughout Thailand you’ll see dragons guarding temples.

 

Exploring Sukhothai Historical Park

Started the day with a 6am swim at the Imperial Chang Mai Sports Club Resort’s 55 meter pool. Perfect pool for triathletes and swimmers minus the poor air quality here. I’m told the air is only bad for 6-8  weeks of the year due to the slash and burn technique used by regional subsistence farmers. By clear cutting and burning plants, the soil is temporarily revitalized and made fertile for crops. Educational efforts are underway and there is growing momentum to switch to less eco-invasive terrace farming and rotating crops instead. Of course, old ways die hard and progress is slow.

Wanted to get a workout in before sitting on my butt for the seven hour bus trip from Chang Mai to Sukhothai. (Second class with AC is just  ~$9. Great, easy, cheap transportation. I think the short taxi ride from the bus station to the hotel in Sukhothai was more…)

Anyway, the long  trip was definitely worth it – Sukhothai Historical Park did not disappoint. And a public bus ride here is so much better than in the states. It’s clean and everyone keeps respectfully quiet, even the children. Cell phone use is kept to an absolute minimum. By the way, if you make it here, renting a bike is the way to go – only 90 cents. The ruins (some reconstructed) are amazing. The park is immaculate (fastidious workers around every corner) and there are shady trees and moats to offset the scorching heat. Go early to avoid crowds and higher temperatures.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Historical Park, the ancient Kingdom of Sukhothai and former capital of Thailand existed from 1238 until 1438.

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