Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Wat Phra Kaew

Located in the heart of downtown Chiang Ria, Wat Phra Kaew is the city's most famous wat, mainly because it was the original home of the Emerald Buddha, which now resides at a wat with the same name at the Grand Palace in Bangkok (see related post from July 11, 2006).

This wat also is associated with a local legend. Rather than retype the whole thing in my own words, you can read about it below:

While we were there, we chatted with a few monks. The one on the right wanted to know if we were excited to have Hillary Clinton be our next Prime Minister.

Wat Phra That Doi Wao

Situated on a steep hill in Mae Sai near the Myanmar border, this wat is said to have been built in memory of several thousand Burmese soldiers who died fighting there in 1965. We were too lazy to climb to the top, so we hired motorcycles to take us there for 10 baht apiece.

Once atop the summit, we had a nice view of Myanmar.

If you look closely, you can see another wat just across the border (it's the building with the steeple).

I'm not sure what the significance of this scorpion statue is (the sign was in Thai).

Wat Chedi Luang

The province of Chiang Saen (near the Mekong River) is home to many ancient wats and the whole area has a similar feel to the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya (see related blog entry from January 21, 2007). I personally like these kinds of places because the experience of visiting them is like taking a step back in time.

Wat Chedi Luang dates back to sometime between the 12th and 14th Centuries. They just don't have things that old in the US.

Wat Pa Sak

This impressive wat also dates back to the 14th Century and is made up of seven monuments. I found the ruins to be surprisingly well-preserved for their age.

Wat Athi Ton Kaew

In some instances, it seems as if parts of the city were actually built up around the ruins. As you can see here, Wat Athi Ton Kaew is located right next to someones house (what you can't see is that it is also in front of a plantation of banana trees).

The most interesting thing about this wat is that it is evidence of the practice of building a brick stupa over an older existing one.

The brick stupa dates back to 1515. The date of the one underneath is unknown.

Wat Luang

Located in Chiang Khong near the Laos border, Wat Luang is one of the most colorful wats I can recall visiting, both inside and out.

The paintings in the interior reminded me a lot of the ones you'd find in an old Italian church, not because of their style, but the fact that there were so many of them and they all seemed to be telling different parts of a religious story.

Beyond the bowls of rice and the Mekong River is Laos. Hopefully we'll visit there someday.

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