This Saturday had started like any other. I was in Chiang Mai, the northern region of Thailand, a land known for its mountains, traditional temples, and the laid-back atmosphere that stands in stark contrast to the bustling, chaotic energy of Bangkok. But today I felt a random urge to get behind the wheel, take a random drive, and see where the roads would take me. In the back of my mind, I had a vague notion to explore the eastern region of Chiang Mai. Maybe it was the whisper of adventure or the need for a change of scenery, I couldn't tell.
Driving eastwards, I found myself getting drawn to the small town of Doi Saket. There’s a Buddhist temple up there, Wat Phra That Doi Saket, a guidebook had told me. Built in 1112. A relic of the past, standing stoic through the sands of time. Legend says that Lord Buddha once visited Doi Saket and was received by the naka, a serpentine deity, who was honored with a lock of Buddha's hair for worship. It sounded like the kind of story folks around here liked to believe in.
As I drove up the winding road to the temple, I felt an odd sort of anticipation building inside me. The narrow road stretched on, revealing fleeting glimpses of the temple, a tease before the main event. On reaching the base, I found myself staring at a long flight of stairs. Upon reaching the top, I stood in the presence of the golden Buddha. But what took my breath away wasn’t just the sight of the Buddha but the panoramic view that unfolded in front of me. The vast expanse of Chiang Mai and Doi Saket lay sprawled out, a quilt of varying shades of green, patches of civilization dotting the landscape. Nice random exploration!
To be honest, it has been almost ten years since I last went to Krabi. Hence, I did not find any landmarks or places to be familiar. First stop after checking into my accommodation (Holiday Inn Express for their practicality and pricing), I took a look at the shoreline. It was low tide unfortunately.
It seemed to be the low season. Perhaps Songkran has just passed so all the visitors must have left. Andy's Tailor, which was close to the hotel, was also empty. I did not need to do any further tailoring, but I helped to negotiate for a better deal anyway.
We originally wanted to eat at one of the beach-front seafood restaurants, but after checking the menu, we decided to save ourselves some money and ended up eating at the night market nearby. A salt-grilled fish like this was nice and moist inside, and was priced well at 200 baht only.
Decided to sign up for a reasonably-priced "Four Island Tour". The following day, we got picked up to the pier area and then embarked on the long-tailed boat.
The islands were pretty nice, with clear waters and obviously, hordes of visitors. Who said this was low season?! I waded through the high tide to the Princess Cave, but of course stopped to pose for some photos, in this blazing heat.
Guess what people were worshipping for at the Princess Cave?
Your guess is as good as mine haha!
Also had the chance to do a little bit of snorkelling near the Chicken Island. It was unfortunate that most of the coral around the area seemed to be dying. A sad result of either global warming, or over-tourism, or likely both combined. (I know I am not helping either).
Also managed to catch a really nice sunset. All in all, I found Krabi to be rather laid back for the right reason. It seems less commercialised, and despite the really hot blazing heat during the day, I had a good time!