The Eat Pray Ride
…well maybe not so much praying, but we will give food offerings to monks who may bless our ride as we take off from Chiang Mai’s holy of holies – Doi Suthep.
Chiang Mai’s oldest temples date back to the 13th Century, and include Chedi Luang right at the centre of the old walled city, and more hidden gems such as U-mong in its quaint forest setting.
Chiang Mai is also rated as one of Thailand’s best eating cities, from the sizzling northern sausage and skewers at street markets to hipster brews in art-cafes, from traditional Thai curries curry in low lit river-side restaurants to LA styled food trucks in emerging neighborhoods.
Not only is biking a great way to keep your appetite on edge – frequent stops for snacking maximise the vaiety of food experiences we can pack in.
Doi Suthep is Chiang Mai – if you are a Thai Bhuddist.
Perched above the city, the temple houses a bone from the Buddha carried by an elephant entrusted to locate an auspicious home for the bone.
As bike riders Doi Suthep is a brilliant beginning to a trip, avoiding crowds with an early morning transfer to the top, where monks may still be chanting as you enjoy expansive views over the city. Begin on a roll with an 11 km down hill ride through the forested switchbacks. Those streaks of orange are monks on their morning alms collecting rounds. Slow down and they’ll come back into focus. Draw to a halt near the bottom of the hill for fantastic alms giving (and photo ops) before we hit the university campus at the base of the hill. Chiang Mai university is one of the pretiest – a garden campus with a huge lake. The large student population is a major factor for Chiang Mai’s fame as a creative, artistic and and youthful city.
AS we hit the student district surrounding the university we have the opportunity to stop for juices, fresh coconuts or a Thai tea from a road side cart. Coffee culture has hit Chiang Mai hard, and the student suburbs are home to many slick and hip cafes. A few kilometers down the road we come to the 13th century Wat Umong , a unique forest temple at the base of Doi Pue with meditation tunnels and a large unpainted stupa.
Monks can be seen circling the stupa in prayer which stands atop the traditional meditation tunnels for which the temple is named. Drawings of elephants and temples on the tunnel’s ceiling date back to the 14th Century.
Shortly after its Roti Massuman for breakfast at a small cafe that services both the monks, local residents and Western-budhists studying meditation at nearby Wat Phaping. There are other choices including fruit salads and juices, but the Masuman with a Thai tea is worth sampling.
Small hidden wats are dotted through these foothills of Doi Suthep and , including Phra That Doi Kham – another small-hilltop temple that rivals Suthep in the sacred department – with fewer tourists.
I am currently in Chiang Mai and am getting hungry…
Have a read of this brilliant article …
To be continued shortly
Do note that this trip is currently a one off designed to run as a little prelude to the Myanmar trip. Chiang mai is a brilliant point of departure for Myanmar.