In the interest of keeping my life stress-free (and preserving some hair), I'm going to stop thinking about the balding.
A sign from a random temple in Chiang Rai.
Anyway, back to Thailand. After the disaster that was the Naga Fireball Festival we headed back to Bangkok, and Mary and Kat left the next day. Danielle and I headed north in a different direction to visit Chiang Rai. Danielle had already been to Chiang Mai, which is bigger and more touristy, but she hadn't seen any hill tribes, and man, she wanted to see some. Sadly for her, she had to wait it out with me for several days in Chiang Rai while I mentally prepared myself for the hill tribes.
Mekong river and Chiang Rai countryside.
In the meantime, we took many impromptu walking tours around the city (which is relatively small... I think we walked the whole of it a couple times) and visited lots of temples. It was nice being in a small less-touristy town as opposed to Bangkok and Krabi.
This is a replica of the sacred Emerald Buddha in Chiang Rai (the real one is in Bangkok). It is in a room with green lighting. I quite enjoyed that.
On Wednesday, we hopped on a public "bus" (it was a van, not unlike those we used in Indonesia) and rode with the locals to the White Temple (or Wat Rong Khun).
The aptly-named White Temple.
This temple was built by Chalemchai Kositpipat, a renowned Thai artist. He built it all in white to symbolize the purity of Buddha. And he's not finished yet. He and his team are continually adding new buildings and statues around the site.
This was the bathroom. Is that not the most glorious restroom you've ever seen? It was closed when we went, but I don't think I could've used it anyway. It's too fancy.
The temple was interesting, but I found it kind of difficult to look at its eye-scorching brilliance. In addition to the white paint, the artist put up tiny glittering mirrors around the designs to highlight them. It gives the whole thing a very blinding effect.
Thais posing at the side-entrance.
Inside the main hall is a huge mural depicting... something. Seriously, I couldn't figure out what was going on inside that thing. I think it might be some sort of massive Buddha head made up of various people and events from pop-culture. I know I saw Darth Vader and Spiderman, and there's no telling what else. Apparently the eyes of the Buddha depict George W. in one eye and Osama bin Laden in the other. I am obviously no great art-analyst, so I won't pretend to know what was going on in there. Probably something about the evils of pop-culture taking over our lives... Isn't that what all art is about these days?
A vomiting planter.
After visiting the White Temple, we went across the street to a cafe for lunch and drank Thai iced tea with bugs in it. I noticed the bugs pretty early on in my tea, but I drank it anyway. I didn't want to be rude. Plus, I was thirsty. Later that day we went shopping at the incredible Chiang Rai night market. The end.
Are your retinas scorched yet? Dragons on top of the White Temple.