We recently spent a day in the Mae Rim area, my blog post HERE, with a couple of Aussies one of whom recommended this Wat to us – thanks Kim. I find that often following the recommendations of people we meet in person, especially those who have lived in Chiang Mai for a time, is far more reliable than the on-line travel sites.
Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi had the benefit of not only being a worth a visit in itself but the drive to get there through Mae Rim was supposed to be very pleasant too. The history of such an impressive Wat located in the middle of nowhere can be explained by the following words kindly supplied by www.roughguides.com:
Yesterday with a few hours to spare we headed off to see if we could follow the map given us and find this Wat, high in the hills outside the city of Chiang Mai.
The first part of the trip had us on the busy Highway 107 before we turned off to the left on Rural Road 3023, which had us heading through small villages and a farming landscape.
My Google Maps navigation skills leave something to be desired because it all looked easy on the computer but we missed the turn in real life. There were large white on blue signs for the Wat with an arrow pointing “dhong pai” or straight ahead on the main road until we came across the same sign pointing back the way we had just come. I called into a shop for a much needed ice cream to steady my nerves, $0.80 for a top of the line Cornetto 🙂 and Gaun got directions, which were turn left at the concrete monk! This was the monk:
We called into one of the many, many temples dotted along the way, which was fairly unmemorable but did allow us to take these two tourist photos:
Leaving behind the lowlands we headed into the hills with the road getting progressively steeper the further along we went. A decent concrete surface, as with so many Thai roads, narrow but no problems at all. I was reading the blog of a bloke who rode it on a bicycle. Good luck with that.
It was a decent trip once we headed off the “main” road. Certainly 30 minutes or more before we started to get signs that a Wat was about to appear. The road itself was well worth the trip just in itself passing through several small villages and past an organic farm and spa of all things. I let a large ute pass us at one stage because I wasn’t in a hurry. It ended up being full of monks and from time to time they stopped for us to catch-up I presume to make sure we were OK. Big smiles all round when we reached our destination, which is marked quite dramatically by this arch being constructed.
Behind it was a large concrete carpark, which could accommodate heaps of vehicles if needed. It was only when I read about the history of the place and its role as a pilgrimage destination to many Thai Buddhists that this made sense. Otherwise it was a bit strange as the Wat was a way from anywhere.
Signage to the Wat itself was non-existent once we hit the hills but ample signage to something called Coffee Nine was tastefully displayed along the way. This is Coffee Nine, an essential Buddhist place of worship.
When you visit don’t stop in the main carpark. Drive on with Coffee Nine on your right and across a small bridge that must go under in the wet season. Turning right you will see the main building ahead guarded by a pack of dogs.
Leave the car in the carpark and the Wat is right there.
I am always pleased to be reminded that Thai temples are “used” spaces for the people here and not just dead pieces of architecture. A large family had turned up while we were there and had engaged a monk to perform a blessing for them.
It was after 5.00 pm by the time we headed back home. These cows had obviously had a hard day eating.
A great way to spend a day and now on my visitor list of options.
GPS: N19 01.093 E098 45.808 in case you miss the concrete monk!
Thanks for reading.