A Window into Chang Mai
Article by www.exotissimo.com - Your travel partner in Indochina, Myanmar and Thailand.
Established in the last years of the 13th century, Chiang Mai city is an older central area surrounded by crumbling walls and a protective moat, and a newer surrounding area of bustling activity.
Deep in the northern mountain ranges and jungles, a world away from Bangkok's famous grand temples and Phuket's celebrated beaches, sits the town of Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city. Devoid of fast-paced discos, high-end retail shops and warm, soupy beaches, the city instead offers a different variety of treasures; culture and landscape rich in history, tradition, and spirituality.
The society exists as an entity apart from the surrounding communities, with its own distinct dialect, lifestyle, art and cuisine. Uncover it for yourself through the city's February Flower Festival, held in honour of blooming flowers with celebrations and joviality or in the colours of a painted paper umbrella and in the skilled hands of a pottery artisan.
The area's 300 centuries-old stone and teak temples are vestiges of ancient civilisations and the long-ago Lanna Kingdom. Wat Chiang Man resides in a corner of the old city, home to two revered relics, one of which is a 1,800 year old crystal Buddha image that offers protection from harm. To the west, not too far away, is Wat Phra Singh and its Lanna murals, which becomes a crowded meeting place once a year for worshipers who come to bathe the highly venerated Phra Singh Buddha during the Songkran New Year Festival.
Wat Umong's labyrinth-like tunnels at the base of Mount Suthep were, as legend tells it, created to prevent a slightly unbalanced monk from roving off. The hilltop Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, with its panoramic views, was built on a site that was chosen by a white elephant carrying a mystical Buddha artefact.
Loi Krathong Festival
For over 800 years, the Festival of Lights has been celebrated on the twelfth full moon of the lunar year, when hundreds of thousands of lovely flower and candle-filled floats are launched in Thailand's lakes, rivers and canals. Each float, presented as an offering to deities, carries away its owner's prayers and wishes. Today, parades, parties and fairs have been added to the festivities.