I stepped off the train at Chiang Mai and it immediately took on a different vibe than busy Bangkok. I found a hotel for 400 baht a night ($12USD.) My main selling point was a pool that I wouldn’t end up making time to use.
The receptionist was super pushy about tours, going to see and pose with the tigers (YES my friends, the SAME tigers you constantly see on Tinder profiles)and ride elephants and 4 day adrenaline packed adventures from bungee jumping to scaling caves and white water rafting. In my ripe age of 27 I have taken on quite an elderly persona. I figured I would do a nice calm educational tour to see the elusive white temple (a must see for me) but better yet it made some stops to the Burmese Border, a river boat over to Laos and a trip to see the Burmese Tribe that wears the decorative rings around their neck, or as the blatantly honest tour guide put it – the “Long Neck Big Ears.” No one else in my tour laughed at that statement but me, why??
I got up at 7am to head out for the full day of adventure. Immediately I met 2 super cool girls around my age who were from Canada and we shared some good laughs, but our group was not lacking in odd personalities. There was a super rude and grumpy middle eastern couple who yelled and complained plenty, a sassy group of 40 something Italian ladies who remained glued in conversation with a tattooed bro of a German man, and I mean like 8+ hours of loud conversation. There was a couple in the back, I think? I wouldn’t know because they didn’t say a word the entire time.
Lets get to the important part, our guide knew just about ZERO english. Which is fine, but I had no idea what the hell was ever going on. We stopped at a ‘hot spring’ which resembled a mall water fountain with ample trinket shopping. The Canadians and I fed Pringles and muffins to the scraggly stray cats until we were ushered back into the van.
Then we finally made it to the white temple. This was something I felt much excitement about. In the guidebooks and photos you can see a beautiful almost fairytale ornate building that looks like it was covered in snow. It made me feel peaceful and looked so calm and serene.
With no explanation or history given from our tour guide I found it a bit strange that the parking posts had red demon heads on them, but many things just don’t make sense in Thailand so I carried on. Then I saw even crazier stuff. Like whiskey bottles surrounding skeleton head potted plants and hundreds of creepy hands reaching out of the ground leading up to the temple.
Once inside, things became even more bizarre. There was a nice buddha statue inside a small room. The room had a beautiful mural on all walls, up close however it was slightly eerie. Michael Jackson and Freddie Kruger and the Twin Towers burning down with Hello Kitty on the top, and a kung fu panda with angry birds scattered about.
I would have loved to show you this as proof but the artist requested that no photos be taken, so you will just have to take my word for it. It clearly was all symbolic for negative distractions and the overtly materialistic world we live in, but a little briefing would have been nice.