A couple months ago, when it was still “cold,” we visited a temple that we’d been hearing of for a while, Wat Ban Donnad (Wat Ban Don Nad?). At the end of a long, broken dirt road that runs through several villages, we ended up here:
You can see our destination out on the island:
We honked our horn, and a young monk on a small outboard came putt-putting out. Max saw the boat and it was on.
Max was wearing his inflatable life jacket all day in anticipation of riding on a boat.
The monk was shy, so I spared him the embarrassment of a face shot.
There’s no electricity on the island, so we brought yard-long candles in addition to the usual food offerings. Giving these to a temple is the most popular form of making merit in Thailand. We talked to the monk that greeted us on the other side for a while, and he seemed to enjoy playing with the kids. Then he showed us the new temple they are building with massive slabs of timber floated down the river from Laos.
We walked around the island for a bit, then headed back to the boat.
We’ve since visited the landing again, but didn’t cross over because there was a temple festival with crowds of people, and they were packing themselves onto the tiny boats to cross over and back. In typical Thai fashion, the people sitting on the edge of the boats were half-heartedly bailing them out until the water inside reached their ankles, at which time the rate of bailing doubled or tripled – this would repeat until the boats reached their destination. When we saw this was happening, we decided it would be okay to pay our respects from the shore on this side.
Exactly one month ago, our family took a trip to Chiang Mai by way of daddy, Max, Mina, and the nanny hitching a ride with mommy on a business trip. Our driver was fast and polite, and since there are typically no seat belts in a Thai commuter van, we decided to leave the baby seats behind. This made for a very smooth and uneventful ride, just the way I like it.
I’ve written about other parts of the trip already, but I didn’t get around to posting (blurry) photos of one of the highlights, an impromptu night stroll from the center of downtown to our hotel. We went out as a group for dinner and to check out the night market, which was a big tourist trap / disappointment. By that time, we had joined up with Daisuke and some of his and Nam’s students… Dai had expressed a longing to drink on the grounds at Wat Chedi Luang, at the very center of town, because it was beautifully lit up at night and temples make such excellent chill out spots.
So Dai and I got dropped off at the main gate, and everybody else went back to the hotel in the van. So began our journey.
Since the front and side gates were already closed, we had to walk all the way around to find a rear way in. We found it, and weaved through various building to get to the chedi (stupa).
Unfortunately, the temple grounds were full of monks and followers walking around and looking at the illuminated stupa, just like us. We could have had beers while hidden in the shadows, but having other people around kind of killed the appeal of it. Instead, we decided to walk back to the hotel by walking out to the ring road (Chiang Mai has an inner and outer ring road, one running clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, just like Osaka’s nakakanjo and sotokanjo, but not elevated), and following it back. We made several stops at historic sites along the way, roughly fulfilling one of the main to-dos for visitors to CM: Visiting many temples.
After leaving the heart of the historical district, we came upon the first 7-11 and eventually instated the two beer rule: Two cans of Leo per person at every 7-11 passed
We ended up at an outdoor futsal stadium with two fields. Daisuke played in the minor soccer league in Japan, so he wanted to watch for a while. I had several beers and a pork bau from a cart outside the 7-11, so I didn’t care. It started getting chilly, though, so I got up and stood watching the khao tom store across the street for ten minutes. There was a deaf guy waiting on the tables who would bring out food to the customers and communicate with them by pointing at the menu and writing things down on the pad, but the cook insisted on shouting at him when orders were ready, very loudly, twice for everything. It made for some fairly hilarious happenings which would suck to relate in writing.
Eventually, we neared the ring road.
We passed an open jazz bar with too many skanky farangs hanging out, and resupplied at another 7-11.
More CD-stars. They might just be used as traffic reflectors, but the placement of some of them was off the road so they might be used to ward off dogs / cats / Christians.
We ended up on the ring road near a historic gate and in dire need of a place to pee, peed on it.
The rest of the night was fairly surreal. We had seafood noodles outside a car dealership. It was fairly late when I saw a red lantern way down a small street, and I was drawn to it. It turned out to be a Japanese izakaya that was closing. They initially refused to serve us, but I begged piteously and an old Japanese man drinking outside shared his bottle with us. He turned out to be just an average guy from Nagoya, who I naturally gave a lot of shit to even while partaking in his drink, just because I secretly look down on Nagoyans as a proud Osakan. The owner’s husband came around and he turned out to be an ex-coworker of Dai’s, so we extended our unwelcome at the closed bar even longer.
We eventually got home, but I don’t remember that part.
It’s still quite cool during the days in Maha Sarakham and actually cold at night. Last year we only had a week or two of this weather, so it’s been great to have it continue for almost two whole months.
These past two months, I’ve been all over on family trips to Phimai, Chiang Mai, and Surin, and for work to Nam Nao, Saraburi, Trat, and Koh Chang. Next weekend I’m taking my Master’s class to Wang Nam Keaw for a weekend survey. Then hopefully, I can take a break from too much traveling for a while. The babies miss me when I’m gone (or so I like to think), and I miss them too.
The photos above were taken with my Galaxy 5 phone on one of our neighborhood walks – the open areas in our development are fast disappearing, so we are getting in as many dirt road rambles with the babies as we can.