Day 41: Mai, Mai, Mai we’ve missed you

When I came round, the time was eight a.m., I vaguely recalled Sarah saying something about booking up a hotel for us, luckily it was a nice one with a living room and kitchen (“that’s novel,” I thought to myself). We decided to get up there and then much to my bodies disgust, as we had to find out about buses that ran to Chiang Mai and see if we could fit in a visit to the White Temple.

I (yes I, as it was me that took charge this time) went to reception to find out information on the buses, I was told we wouldn’t be able to hire a bus through them, instead, Sarah and Iwould have to visit the bus station. The lady gave me a map and marked it, I returned to the room where the pair of us then headed off. On the way we grabbed breakfast at the seven eleven, in the form of toasties, then proceeded to our destination. When we arrived we had the choice of three separate buses, VIP, first, or second class. Being cheapskates we opted for the second class one. When we were walking back we stopped in a little cafe for some food. I chose a disappointing fried rice dish (the reason it was disappointing, they brought me the wrong dish) it was rather spicy and didn’t taste too good either, luckily, I had a blueberry smoothie to wash it down with.

We left shortly after we finished our drinks and ended up getting a tuktuk back to our hostel. When we arrived we met Brandon in the dining area of the resort. We told him about the ticket we purchased for him, where he kindly reimbursed us the money. We asked him if he’d be interested in joining us to visit the White Temple, but because he though it would be the same as every other temple, he turned down the offer. We returned to our rooms and packed our bags, then checked out to avoid paying for another nights stay. We then left for the temple, while leaving Brandon at the pool with our tablet device (trusting much!). The tuktuk cost us the equivalent of six pounds to get there, and the ride lasted around twenty minutes. I was actually quite excited for this temple after seeing some photos that Jenna had on her phone.

When we pulled up outside the driver said he would wait while we explored, we then made our way over. We didn’t have to pay any fee to look around and women didn’t have to cover up to go inside, which was a pleasant change. The first thing you notice is the buildings structure, it is so detailed, it reminded me of a tattoo sleeve in the sense that from a distance it just looks like a bunch of shapes but when you get closer, you notice all of the intricate details etched into the stone.

The clue is in the title so as you can imagine the whole building is white. It contains thousands of reflective mosaic pieces, some act as scales on the stone dragons, while others are just for show. As we made our way around the temple we reached the foot of the bridge which would take us to the front door. Either side of the path were pits, in each one were hundreds of hands carved from stone to represent souls reaching up from hell. I particularly liked the open mouthed skull which was used as a donations pot. We made our way up the path until we reached the doors, here, we had to remove our shoes before we could enter, sadly, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures. This was a shame as inside was a wax work statue of a monk, behind him was a statue of Buddha, behind that a larger statue, and finally behind that one was an even larger painting of Buddha on the wall. The main thing in the room which really caught my eye, and I’d have loved to have caught on camera, was a humongous mural that depicted all the evil in the world. There was a clever drawing of the twin towers that had two dragons rising from the smoke and at the end of their tails were fuel pumps dripping into the open mouths of human heads. There was also lots of drawings of bad guys from movies including Jaba the Hut and Predator, as well as drawings of most popular science fiction masterpieces and animated characters, one of which was my personal favourite, Batman (fancy seeing him in a temple, I knew I wasn’t wrong to like him).

I really liked this temple as it didn’t feel religious like the others, instead, it had more of an artistic vibe (and if you didn’t know this about me by now, I chuffin love art). When we were done exploring the grounds we noticed four pillar like objects, hanging from them were copious amounts of silver medallions which people had written on.

We purchased our own pendant and wrote our names and date on it, then on the back Sarah got a local to write White Temple in Thai. Before we left we saw a no smoking sign which had the demon hands stretching out all around it, and in each hand was a packet of cigarettes. Randomly, there was also a statue of Predator jutting up from the grass, the only reason I can think of for him to have been there was due to him looking like a demon. Out of all the temples we had visited it was the first one I would happily visit again. When we were done we got our driver to take us back to our guesthouse so we could rub it in Brandon’s face that he missed out by staying at the pool.

The three of us went to the dining room to order some dinner, as the time was only two p.m. and we had a few hours to burn before we were to be picked up at five. During our last few hours we contemplated getting in the pool but due to the amount of children in there splashing around we gave it a miss, it looked like an aquatic creche. Earlier that day Brandon showed us how to get movies on our tablet which was great news as we were missing all the shows we used to watch back home. We downloaded some episodes of Homeland (a show we’d recently gotten into, thanks to Suzy) and before we knew it, our pre arranged taxi showed up to take us to the bus station. Within five minutes we had arrived and only had to wait another fifteen before a rather nice looking coach pulled up. The journey would only take three and a half hours, which flew by, when you compare that to our day long ride a few days back.

We got off at Chang Mai bus station, and I have to say I was more excited this time round as I had a better appreciation for a familiar town after being in Laos. Not only that, but Brandon informed us of the great nightlife there which Sarah and I didn’t realise existed. Now I understood how it may have been possible for Sarah’s brother to have stayed there for as long as he did. We were happy to see the red trucks again as these were government run vehicles which were cheaper than a tuktuk. That didn’t stop one tuktuk driver being cheeky enough to offer us a lift and charge us one hundred and fifty baht, then tried telling us a red truck would cost two hundred. Sarah ignored him and went to a red truck regardless. The driver kindly charged us thirty baht each, just goes to show, tuktuk drivers will lie to get what they want. The truck drove us to the doors of a lovely building which we’d be staying at for the next two nights. Inside our room was a real surprise, as it not only had a bedroom, but also a bathroom (with an actual bathtub), a kitchen, and a living room. The whole place was open planned (well except for the bathroom) and was better furnished than my house back in England. Here are some pictures so you can see what we were getting for four pounds a night…

Before we left the room Sarah had a shower and got ready, during this time Brandon had one of his classic naps on the sofa, while I watched some television in the reclining chair. It felt just like home, only I couldn’t understand certain channels…. actually, I couldn’t understand most channels, even the great movie Con-Air was in another language :(. When Sarah was done, the three of us caught a red truck to town where Brandon and I ate a long awaited McDonald’s. We then walked to Sarah’s favourite joint, a little place hidden amongst the night bazaar which sold cheap Thai food. Before leaving that night Brandon checked on Facebook to see if his buddies were in town, luckily for him they were which meant he had a roof over his head for the night (otherwise we’d have let him crash on our sofa). We were about to catch a truck back to our hotel but something caught our eyes, that something was a stall selling nice trainers. We asked the owner what the biggest size was, to which he said eleven. He then said to me, ” I don’t have your size, you thirteen or fourteen,” followed by him pointing to my toes and performing a swift chopping motion, unsure of his selling tactics and intentions we left and boarded a truck back home. Outside the hotel Brandon asked the driver to wait while he ran upstairs to grab his bags, in our room we said goodbye to the holy moustached one, before having a night to ourselves for the first time in a little while.  

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