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Doi Suthep


Chiang Mai   |   markets   |   wat   |   zoo   |   Doi Suthep   |   etc.

June, 2004

Thailand photo.
Golden Chedi
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— Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep is a 1,600 meter (one mile) tall mountain just a few kilometers from Chiang Mai. At it's peak is one of the most revered Bhuddist shrines in northern Thailand, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The site was supposedly chosen by a royal white elephant during the 14th century. There are several variations on the story. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the years. Most of the current buildings date from the 16th century, but have been heavily restored. Access to the temple is by climbing a 306-step staircase flanked by the long bodies of 2 nagas (serpents).

On the day of our visit, there were only a few foreign tourists, but we saw quite a few Thai visitors. They delighted in ringing the many temple bells that are hung around the temple complex, and in having their pictures taken in front of the many picturesque features of the temple. Here are some more photos of the complex:




Thailand photo.
Phra Tamnak Buphing Rajanives
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Thailand photo.
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— Bhuping Palace

The Bhuping Palace was built on Doi Suthep mountain in the early 1960's. The major buildings are in a modern Thai style, with some smaller buildings built as log houses. The Palace is the winter residence of the Royal family during seasonal visits to northern Thailand. It is also used as the royal guesthouse for important visitors to this area. The Palace grounds are open to the public during the summer months.

During our visit, the mountain was covered in clouds, and the air was cool at the high elevation. The gardens are beautiful and include a huge variety of flowering plants. One of the highlights of our visit was watching a small creature that was feeding on nectar. It flew at high speeds and hovered for just a second over each flower. We thought at first that it was a humming bird, but it is certainly an insect, probably a hummingbird moth. It flew so fast that it was nearly impossible to photograph. Jim took over a dozen photos to get one or two that are useable. Here are eleven more photos of the wonderful Bhuping gardens:




Thailand photo.
Hmong village

 
— Index —

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— Hmong village at Doi Pui

There are a number of hill tribes living in the mountaineous regions of northern Thailand. Many have been displaced by war, drug trafficing, and other strife in their native homelands. Most of them have lost their traditional lifestyles to the effects of modernization and tourism. We visited a Hmong village on Doi Suthep mountain, near the Royal Palace (see photo at left.) The people are obviously poor, but seemed cheerful and friendly. There were few tourists on the day we visited (mainly Thai), but most of the small shops were open anyway. The people sell a mix of local handicrafts and manufactured goods. We bought a bedspread decorated with elephants.

The people at Doi Pui have built a small replica of a traditional Hmong village — follow the signs to the waterfall. They charge 7 baht (17 ¢) for admission. Some of the tribespeople make a little money by posing in their traditional costumes for photographs with the tourists. It may seem unreasonable for someone to insist on being paid to be in a photograph, but the people in this village have few other opportunities. And, of course, models and actors in Western nations do the same, although they demand a much greater amount of money. Tourism helps to support the hill tribes while at the same time it promotes changes that have helped to destroy their traditional lifestyles. It is a difficult situation. The government of Thailand is working hard to find a solution.

Here are a few more photos from the Hmong village at Doi Pui:

woman  | garden  | kettle

 

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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
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Created 6/2004. All text & photos are © 2004 Jim Richter.