In addition to being a very striking building, the library at Wat Phra Singh is an example of classical Lanna architecture, or so I have read. Before the modern Thai state began to take shape in the late 18th century, a Lan Na kingdom centered in Chiang Mai ruled much of the northern part of what is now Thailand. The history is complex and I certainly only know the barest outline. But Lanna as a tradition (and a marketing buzzword) is alive and well in Chiang Mai today – Lanna architecture, Lanna style, Lanna cuisine, Lanna massage, et cetera, et cetera… Be that as it may, Wat Phra Singh has one cool library building.
Wat Phra Singh is a large, wealthy temple complex in the center of Chiang Mai’s old city. I walked in when the apprentice monks were being led by elder monks in chants in the largest of the temples. I wanted a picture or two, but about the time I got ready to point and shoot, the chanting stopped and everybody got up and filed out of the temple. I did, however, get a number of images of the grounds, of which this is one.
This photo revisits Nong Bauk Hard Park, a lovely public space in the southwest corner of Chiang Mai’s old city. (You can see the earlier visit here.) For those of you who know it, think the Boston Public Garden in a subtropical climate.
Bamboo plants, seen on the right of this photo, are a variety of grass. The plants are gorgeous, the stalks are resilient and useful for making all sorts of things, and the new shoots (bamboo culms) of many types of bamboo are edible and feature in a number of Asian cuisines.
The shop across the street buys coconuts in bulk and then prepares them to have the tops cut off and sold as beverages to tourists. Street vendors come along to buy the bags and take them to stalls that can be found all over Chiang Mai. Tasty and refreshing, especially if the vendor keeps the coconuts packed in ice so the juice is slightly chilled. It seems the street vendors pay around (US) 65 cents per coconut and then resell them to passersby for $1.30 to $1.50 each. Sit down restaurants and coffee shops are somewhat more expensive. Still, nobody is getting rich from this business.
I am rather fond of the tree which has grown through the corrugated roofing in the center of the photo.
I went on a walking tour this morning of several traditional markets in Chiang Mai. A local guy organizes the walks through Meetup. I have been on a couple of these now – fun and informative, and a great group of fellow walkers on both occasions.
Many of the shops in these markets are owned by Chinese families that came to Thailand in the past, often many years ago. Today, these Chinese-Thais are assimilated into Thai society and are largely indistinguishable from other Thais. Nonetheless, originally from southern China, Guangdong and Fujian for the most part, these families continue to be a part of the vast Chinese trading networks that have long played a major role in the business and commercial worlds of Southeast Asian countries.
This photo shows a Chinese tourist doing what Chinese do best: shopping and bargaining!
This photo was taken in late May when I visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. Passed right by this image the first time I looked at the pictures I shot that day, but a second look got me to reconsider. The roof moving off into the distance on the right, I think, makes the composition very dynamic. This movement really sets off the two people—the woman in her lovely rainbow colored serape—framed by the white columns as they escape the blistering hot sun for a few moments.
This is the first time I have ever posted an image from my phone. Technically it leaves more than a little bit to be desired – the subjects sitting in shade with bright noonday sunlight hitting a white wall behind them. Difficult lighting for the best of cameras, of which the phone’s is not one.
Still I love the image — Friends sitting at a table and not saying a word while they all stare at their phones. It’s a scene that makes me feel old. And one that I did not have to travel to Thailand to come across.