We are back into exploring mode after a couple of weeks settling back into Chiang Mai after the Australian/Phuket trip.

I headed onto the internet to see what others had discovered off the tourist trail and came across this jungle Wat or temple, on Doi Suthep, which is the large hill at the back of Chiang Mai. So today we headed off into a rather smoky and overcast afternoon to see if Google maps was correct in the location of Wat Phalat, a highly unusual occurrence if it was as GM is usually hopeless here.

For those looking for the entrance to this temple you travel about ten minutes up Doi Suthep after the Chiang Mai zoo entrance on Huay Kaey Road and on the left you’ll see this small white temple:

This little temple sits by itself just off the road, so keep an eye out for it.

This little temple sits by itself just off the road, so keep an eye out for it. This photo taken last year when we saw the sky.

Take the paved road to the left of this temple and you head downwards on a pretty narrow road before arriving at the parking area for Wat Phalat and few hundred meters on. Most tourists will miss seeing this temple as they head further up Doi Suthep to the the far more famous Wat Phra That – see my blog entry HERE. If you want some piece and quiet, an absence of tourists, waterfalls and a great glimpse of Chiang Mai then forget Wat Phra That and come here.

We arrived to a full parking lot, which sounds fancy but is actually just pulling the car off the road! There was some sort of ceremony happening, which Guan first thought was a cremation as there were fires burning, a heap of people under a big marquee and a row of monks chanting.

We tiptoed around the ceremony trying to look inconspicuous, which as I was the only farang there was a bit hard. Gaun spoke to one of the ladies on the edge of the main group and found out that it was not a cremation. thank goodness because she’s not at all keen on them and would have taken off,  but a New Year Buddha making ceremony. I don’t know what the official title is for this but the temple was pouring liquid gold into moulds to make new Buddha images. We were lucky to come across it as I guess it doesn’t happen too often.

This is liquid gold being carted around by guys in thongs.

This is liquid gold being carted around by guys in thongs.

Liquid gold - not 100% according to Gaun.

Liquid gold – not 100% according to Gaun.

No title needed for this image.

No title needed for this image.

The official heavies.

The official heavies.

Leaving the main event behind as they placed more gold blocks into the handmade furnace to melt we headed off to have a look at the temple grounds. Wat Phalat is scattered over a fairly large area cascading down the hillside. Most of it has no order in the true Thai way but because it surrounded by the forest and in some cases merged into it the resulting effect is quite serene and peaceful.

The old Chedi in the background.

The old Chedi in the background.

Would look good in my garden.

Would look good in my garden.

It's a hard life being a temple dog.

It’s a hard life being a temple dog.

The statues will have been washed and new offerings made as part of the Songkran or Thai New Year, which has just finished.

The statues will have been washed and new offerings made as part of the Songkran or Thai New Year, which has just finished. This is the chedi structure.

Looking spiritual in my Tony Frosties T-shirt. Thanks Gaz.

Looking spiritual and colour coordinated in my Tony Kelloggs Frosties T-shirt. Thanks Gaz.

Behind the main temple there are signs of  some extensive building work obviously to provide monks with modern, air conditioned, en-suite facilities. Too much luxury I say.

What happened to simple living?

What happened to the concept of monks living a simple life?

On guard. The main temple roof in the background.

On guard. The main temple roof in the background.

There were monks of all ages attending the event ranging from some senior guys leading the ceremony itself through to some others who might have a little way to go before achieving self realisation:

Mini monk.

Mini monk or a monkette.

Towards the back of the compound we came across both this old water well, still in use, and these yai – old ladies – using it. Gaun pulled up the bucket so these two could refill their water-bottles and they were both grateful and chatty. The one of the right has a married daughter living in Australia!

Delightful ladies.

Delightful ladies. The well entrance in the background.

There is no shortage of faculties apart from the well. These are the toilets:

A Salvador Dali creation obviously.

A Salvador Dali creation obviously. A sort of melted candle wax look.

Statues are scattered around and seem to fit into the landscape giving wonderful photo opportunities:

19-DSC_0262

Woof.

Woof.

A stream and waterfalls flow through the back of the temple area, or they would do if it wasn’t the dry season here, and it is here you get a lovely glimpse of Chiang Mai city, or you would do if you weren’t seeing it through a smoke haze. What I am offering you here are the possibilities not the actual at this time! Use your imagination.

This is where a stream might run if there was water.

This is where a stream might run if there was water.

This is would look nice if (a) it was the rainy season and (b) it wasn't smoky as the view of Chiang Mai is in the background.

This is would look nice if (a) it was the rainy season and the cascades were happening (b) it wasn’t smoky as the view of Chiang Mai is in the background.

Ah yes. A bridge too far for some in DHS. An "in" public service joke - sorry.

Ah yes. A bridge too far for some in DHS. An “in” public service joke – sorry.

No blog without one Gaun photo - also sorry.

No blog without one Gaun photo – also sorry. A lost waif.

Heading out of Wat Phalat we came across these upmarket accommodation suites complete with free black cat.

Once you've done your time in the grass huts this could be your reward.

Once you’ve done your time in the grass huts this could be your reward.

I had planned to head to Nimmanhaemin Road – read my blog entry HERE, for an iced tea – yes I am off coffee in the afternoon. However as it was now abut 3.30 pm I decided to give it a miss and head homewards. A good thing because we were waved through an intersection by police and the reason for their intervention had us pull over for some photos. This is what I love about being here. The unexpected can pop up at any moment. This was a late Songkran – Thai New Year – procession, waiting to head off and totally disrupt traffic!

Beautifully presented.

Beautifully presented.

Waiting to start preforming. These are Thai dancers.

Waiting to start preforming. These are Thai dancers. Notice the false tin fingernails, which emphasise the hand movements so central to formal Thai dancing.

A left-over from Mad Max - Thai version.

A left-over from Mad Max – the Thai version.

The procession on its way we ended up stopping off at a cafe I hadn’t been to before about ten minutes from home. We indulged in a low fat iced green tea – Thai style, which balanced off nicely the gym time we had done that morning. Carbs out = carbs in.

Oh dear. The ice cubes are low fat.

Oh dear. The ice cubes are low fat anyway.

To finalise this blog I can’t think of a better photo than this one, which was on the wall of this cafe:

Mine aren't too bad but....

My ex’s aren’t too bad but….

So a mixed afternoon I thought I would capture while I was in the mood.

Thanks for reading.