We were exhausted last night! We fell asleep with all of the lights on and completely missed dinner. When we finally woke up this morning, we enjoyed a slow breakfast as we had no definite plans other than to explore the city. One of the places on our list to explore was Wat Doi Suthep, a temple about 15 km outside of town in the mountains. To get there, we hired a tuk tuk to take us to the Chiang Mai Zoo. From there, we hired a songthaew to drive us up the mountain. What we didn't know was that the songthaew waited for a minimum of 10 people and we were the first two in line! It was a beautiful day and soon, we had enough to start up the mountain.
When we arrived at the top, we still had 309 steps to climb to reach the pagodas of the temple. Legend has it that the temple was built there after a monk released a white elephant with a special relic into the jungle. The elephant climbed the mountain and died at the site where the temple was then built in 1368. At the base of the stairs, there were several small stands and shops and lots of people. We climbed to the top and had great views of the mountain and jungle. We couldn't see the city through the haze though.
We walked around the outside of the temple first before taking our shoes off to go inside. Inside, there was gold everywhere. There were several small rooms where monks were blessing people. The visitors were mixed between religious pilgrims and tourists. It was starting to get warm so we headed back down the mountain. We hired a songthaew that was able to take us deeper into the city so the tuk tuk ride was shorter.
We asked the hotel to heat up some of our leftovers and they made us rice and served us in the hotel dining room! The food we made was as good as we remembered! After lunch, we sat by the pool and did some reading and resting. The pools aren't heated since the sun is so warm. However, our pool has a lot of vegetation that must block the sun because the water is freezing! We couldn't stay in the water long before we were back on our deck chairs.
This evening, we found a great place for massages. We both opted for the Thai massage and it was intense. The masseuses used their hands, elbows and knees and sometimes all at once! It was very relaxing. After the massage, we went to dinner at a restaurant right on the river. It had great views of the city and live music. Tomorrow will be more exploring as we plan to do a walking tour of some parts of the old town of Chiang Mai, including some other active temples.