Chiang Mai, Thailand: Part One (Wat’s Up Tiger Town?)

**Hey everyone, sorry for the delay- we’ve been living on an island off the coast of northern Vietnam & the internet speed has been terrible until now!. We got an upgrade so the travel tales will resume from here. Thanks for your patience!**

Sierra and I catch a cheap night flight from Krabi to Chiang Mai through Thai Smile airlines. It’s short and sweet. From the southern coast to the northern mountains, we find the air cool and inviting when we land.

We get hailed by a taxi bus. He charges us a few bucks for a ride to the center of the city. It’s around ten pm and the city is eerily silent.

After checking a few hotels and hostels, we settle on one called Julie Guesthouse. The rooms are cheap, the beer is cheaper, and the company is lively.

After a few beers, I decide to take a late night stroll. I want some street food. Sierra reluctantly tags along as we wind down narrow alleyways tiptoeing around the stray dogs sleeping on the sidewalk.

After walking for ten minutes we come upon a bustling corner or food vendors in front of a 7-11. I walk right into the crowd and buy what appears to be a corn dog. Upon closer inspection, I see it’s rice instead of corn. Pork in the middle. It’s cheap and satisfying.

We sit near a late-night cocktail table, watching the old Thai man sell strong drink to locals. Everyone is milling about with cheerful grins.

Sierra & I buy some provisions at the 7-11 and walk home to tuck ourselves in for the night.

The next morning we have an quick breakfast with banana coffee shakes. We let our feet take us around the city. After a half hour we catch a glimpse of something ancient in the skyline.

It calls us in. We find ourselves at the entrance of an old temple.

Upon entering, we are charged two dollars each. The women are instructed to cover their legs.

There are many small buildings about. One of them has a foreboding sign, “men only”. I enter while Sierra waits outside. 

Inside there is a centerpiece shrine and marvelous painted walls. Tourists are milling about, alternately taking pictures and making prostrations. 

A Dutchman strikes up a conversation with me,

“Are you sure you’re a man?”

“Last time I checked, yes.”

He laughs,

“Isn’t this great? A place where men can congregate! We need this everywhere.”

“Yeah, it’s not so bad. You suppose there are women-only buildings around here?”

“I don’t know.”

“There should be.”

“Yeah, but this is what we need, a place where men can feel safe to express themselves and commune together. Smoke cigars, discuss our issues, drink beer and fight.” He chuckles and nudges my elbow.

“Sure man, I think that each gender needs a sanctuary.”

“But why don’t we have this in most other places?”

“Islam practices plenty of gender segregation. In the west we feign political correctness but it’s plain to see it’s usually a costume for ulterior motives. There is a gender imbalance within human culture, I believe.” I admit to myself that I’m still dimly aware of it.

“Yeah, so how do we start a mens club without disrupting things?” He wonders.

“You ever hear of a female Freemason? I haven’t. The thing to remember is we need each other. Ultimately, male and female can’t exist separately.” I stop to let other tourists step around us.

“Unless they kill us all and harvest our sperm.” He jokes.

“Militants sexists who live under guise of feminism may want that but I don’t think most women want that.” I maintain a serious tone, for who’s sake I’m not sure.

“I think I can live without women.” He boasts & chuckles.

 The discussion curtails into silence as we admire the intricate figures on the wall.

Coming back outside, Sierra is soaked with sweat under the blazing sun. She gives me a fierce look of frustration. I’ve been in there far too long. I apologize and try to explain myself on behalf of the male gender. It comes off as ignorant. 

Sierra explains why women aren’t allowed into that specidic temple: they are deemed unclean because they menstruate.

Obsolete traditions prevail over common sense. 

We walk onward to behold the centerpiece of the temple grounds.

The place is flooded with other tourists so we snap our shots quickly and walk on. Few monks to be seen here.

We explore the newer buildings with their statues and shrines.

There are some smaller buildings with big shrines and little gift shops. Even the bells have barcodes on them.

Next, we stop in at the temple restroom to relieve ourselves. 

The signs can be a tad misleading…

Moving onward and outward from the temple grounds, we share one last view. 

The Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej
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2 Comments

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  1. Great descriptions. I feel the warm air, Sierra’s “silent” frustration, and wanting to pull Jon away before “watering” the plant! Can’t wait to see you and hear how to pronounce some of those city names. Love you.

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