Bennett is waiting at the airport to greet us. He has arranged a car and driver (Ken) for the week.
They play Christmas songs on the A-300 speaker system. Christmas is big here, Bennett says, however, that they tend to mix up Santa and the elves with Snow White and the seven dwarfs, so you may see Snow White and Grumpy in department store displays. A happy time to give gifts.
We see three temples before lunch. One is in the mountains in a jungle setting. I talk to a young monk in a red robe. I say "good morning" and he laughs and says "good afternoon". It's 2PM.
The monk asks How I am, how I feel and where I'm from. I answer as carefully as possible. He says the temple complex is a year old when I ask how old it is. I ask how old the buildings are and he says about 600 years.
We vistit a more formal temple called Wat Phra That Doi Sutep. It was commissioned by King Kuena who ruled from 1367-1368.There is a Hmong village near the temple where cars park and many stalls that sell fruit, drinks and souveneirs. We take a cable car to the top. The temple has a great view looking down to Chiang Mai.
The temple has a lot of tourists, but also a lot of local worshippers. They burn candles and incense and offer flowers to the Buddhas. You can buy a bowl of coins and drop one in each of 108 bowls, .representing the 108 different auspicious characteristics of a Buddha.
A mountain stream.
Ken takes us to a very rustic mountainside restaurant. It's down an unlikely dirt road. Sleeping dogs wake up as we pass and move out of the road. This is not a restaurant you would be likely to find without an excellent local guide.
I order snakehead fish sausage and snakehead fish soup. They are both spicy hot and delicious.
This Christmas tree is in the lobby of our hotel, the Royal Princess.
We put the Deet bug spray in 4 ounce plastic bottles to get it through TSA. It melted all the bottles into a smelly, sticky plastic goop inside our backpack. Very strange. I thought plastic was indestructible. No wonder mosquitoes hate Deet.
I lost my memory stick with all my usernames and passwords. Spent most of the night online changing passwords. We even made one call to the States over the hotel phone system. In the morning we found the memory stick on the floor. I think I'll add "5" to all my passwords listed on the memory stick to foil hackers in case I lose the file again. For example, the password Phred666 will now be listed as Phred671 on the memory stick.
A mountain temple in the jungle.