Wat Hidden Gem: Exploring Chiang Mai, Thailand

The best experiences are those that are dream like. 
Tink-tink. Tink-tink. The wind chimes almost sounded like they were dancing in the air. The wind and grey, shapely clouds added to the moody mystique. Earlier in the day, while taking in the sights within city walls, I was stranded under a canopy on Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan grounds. It did not start raining. No, not at all. This could not be called rain. Resigned to the fact that I was stuck for a little while, I sat on the ground and stared at what was rapidly becoming a moat around the stupa.
My plight was fodder for entertainment for the 29 monks sat on benches beneath the other canopy across the river of rain water. My status included no rain jacket, no umbrella, and electronics in each hand. Yes... I had arrived prepared.

Angry Clouds Above Wat Chedi Luang Woriwihan
The rain that fell on that day was different, though. 
That day, the sky opened up and the rain fell as if giant hands were wringing an Egyptian towel over the ancient city. Other days, the skies become crystal clear and deep blue after the rain. That day, gloomy rain clouds threatened the rest of the afternoon. The air was damp but cool, a feeling that I seemed to have forgotten during my travels in the oppressively humid climates of southeast Asia.
After the rain, wandering around the Northeast corner of the old city, I unexpectedly came upon Chiang Mai’s oldest royal Wat, whose construction coincided with an expansion of hundreds of temples in the region, including those in located in present day Burma. The temple's premises were small and quaint, neither sprawling nor gaudy like many others of the era. The property evoked the feeling that I was strolling through a friend's old country home that happened to have a shrine to Buddha.
Tink-tink. Tink-tink. Walking along the narrow paths, I half expected to come up on a wrap around porch. To add to the serenity, only one couple happened to be visiting the grounds at the same time. Perhaps the earlier downpour had scared tourists away for the rest of the day. Or perhaps it was always a hidden gem.
The structure inside is not particularly impressive. Other than interesting pillars that coincide with its country-like theme, the interior evokes no soothing, pleasant feeling as the one found walking around the outdoors. Comparatively, the grand, must-see Wat from earlier in the day, Wat Chedi Luang, boasts a human-sized, gold-leaf Buddha. The gold leaves seem to not have been added with regularity and added haphazardly, at that. From the outside, this Wat also has more striking and photogenic architecture.

Absolute favorites of anything are not generally in my repertoire, thus I have been hard pressed to name favorites, even for a fleeting moment. Instead, my focus gravitates toward great things or experiences. In the case of temples, though I am neither Buddhist or spiritual, with the tink-tink of this sweet, soprano wind chime, the aura of this second, hidden gem of a temple was so calming that makes my short list of great temples. It may even be my favorite.

No comments:

Post a Comment