We decided to do some exploring in the old city area of Chiang Mai and found several interesting sights.
A rather sophisticated bit of graffiti, a robot image that I saw repeated on another wall a few days later. While I know that graffiti is vandalism, I do find that it is also interesting art.
Outside a building about a block from the touristy pub area, Tawn pointed out this sign to me: tii maa yieaw, or “place where dogs piss.” I take this to mean that the owner has had problems with people urinating there so he is hoping to shame them. I suppose this is only going to work for Thais.
We passed this vacant building for sale. Its style is completely uncharacteristic of Thailand and would look more at home among Brooklyn brownstones than here in Chiang Mai. Tawn likes it and thinks he should buy it for his fashion design company’s headquarters. Maybe a bit premature for that!
Stopping by one wat, or temple, I found a good example of the Lanna, or northern Thai, script. Lanna (which means “a million rice fields”) was the kingdom centered around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai from the 13th – 18th centuries. A derivative of the language is still spoken by some northern Thais, although the reading and writing is much less common. This sign has Lanna on the top, with Thai and English on the bottom. The Thai script is slightly stylized and is not written quite as you would see it in a textbook.
A friendly, shaggy dog hanging around the temple. Generally speaking, stray animals in Thailand (especially dogs) aren’t very friendly. We encountered several in Chiang Mai, though, who came up to us, tails wagging.
Wat Sri Suphan, a temple located on the south side of the old city, is in the silvermaking district. Chiang Mai is known for its silver and at this particular temple they are constructing an ubosot, or ordination hall, that is decorated entirely in silver. This process seems to be going slowly, though.
A view of the entrance steps shows how the concrete base is being embellished with silver sheets, pounded into intricate designs. All in all, I don’t find this very attractive. The overall look is very heavy and dull.
Contrast the silver decoration with this other building (a wihan, or Buddha image building) on the same temple grounds, which has elaborately detailed and very colorful dragons guarding the entrance.
Finally, as the sun sank in the west, the rain clouds let up a bit, although the lower ones still shrouded Doi Suthep, the low mountain that overlooks Chiang Mai and has a beautiful temple on its slopes. (Pictures from a visit there in January 2010.)