Visiting the wats of Northern Thailand can be overwhelming at first, given the density and opulence of the Lan Na decor: colourful glass mosaic inlay and mulberry painted wooden beams and doorways, quivering golden prayer flags hung from heavy beams above, Jade Buddhas and mummified monks too real to believe. These images were taken at various wats around Chiang Mai and Lampang, around 100 kms north-east of Chiang Mai and other smaller towns of the old Lan Na kingdom. The wats are beginning to blur. Chiang Mai calls.
Thursday is now the day to indulge in travel memories, courtesy of the photographic prompts from wordpress. Today’s prompt is Dense.
Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, is the most beautiful city in Asia and an important centre for Lanna culture and Buddhist temples, with over 200 temples in and around the city. One of my favourite temples is Wat Chedi Luang, which sits at the centre of the old walled city. I like to base myself nearby so that I can visit old Chedi often. It is always the first temple I visit before wandering the town endlessly, discovering new delights. Gleaming with golden Buddhas, colourful prayer flags drift from the ceiling and Lanna glass mosaics line the walls.
Orange has long been associated with Buddhism throughout Asia, where saffron robes adorn young Buddhist monks, orange flags and sashes decorate temples and golden pagodas turn orange in the setting sun.
These Buddha were hiding inside one of the dark interiors of a temple in Bagan, Myanmar.
In My Kitchen this month I am listening to the music of Jiang Yang Zhuo Ma. I can’t start the day without her deep voiced Tibetan ballads stirring my spirit. With a cup of tea in hand, the first of many, I drift away and travel back through Szechuan Province in China. Then the kitchen business day begins.
In keeping with the Chinese theme, we have some very good Chinese tea, gifts from our dear friends in Chengdu. It tastes of Spring and flowers. The tea shops in China are surprisingly beautiful. Some teas cost a fortune.
On our road trip through the north of Szechuan Province, we visited a Szechuan pepper oil factory. Back in Melbourne, I immediately sourced a bottle ( sadly not from the same factory). Used like sesame oil, it provides a deep, peppery finish to MaPo Dofu or drizzled over stir fried wongbok cabbage, for example.
I have a slight obsession with these vintage floral tin plates from China. Produced during the period of the Cultural revolution ( 1970s), they have become quite rare. I use them as prep plates, or as trays to cart things outside, or to collect, then wash, greens from the garden.
I also have a big pile of these Chinese fish patterned bowls as I am sure many others do. They are economical and handy for one bowl meals.
I found this Chinese thermos in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia in the hardware store for $6.00. I had to buy it, even though it meant lugging it back to Sanur, Bali, before heading home to Australia. I fill it up in the morning and drink tea the Chinese way, topping up the same leaves.
Mr Tranquillo likes a beer after work and this is his current drop of choice, Tsingtao of course.
I always keep a kitchen Buddha nearby to help with the day. My Chinese kitchen sits very comfortably within my Australian kitchen, alongside the Italian cuisine, when I’m not cooking Turkish. Thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the ‘In My Kitchen’ monthly, thus allowing me to expose my love of China. Visit Celia’s site and open the many links to worldwide kitchens.
Today, as part of Ailsa’s weekly travel theme ( Where’s My Backpack ), we are heading to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand and entering Wat Phra Kaeo, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This week’s theme is Glow.
A candle is lit for for contemplative gratitude and inspiration.
The Emerald Buddha glows with pure Jade.
Travel Notes: Chiang Rai’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha claims to be the ‘original’ Wat Phra Kaeo, at least in Thailand. In 1434, lightning struck the chedi (since restored) and cracked it open. The ‘Emerald Buddha’ was found inside the broken pagoda. Soon after its discovery, the sacred image was moved to Lampang, then Chiang Mai, then Laos and finally to Bangkok in 1778.
The ‘Emerald Buddha’ is actually made of jade. In 1991 a replica of the original was commissioned to honor the Princess Mother’s 90th birthday. A large hunk of Canadian jadeite was donated by a rich Chinese businessman, and the replica was carved in Beijing. Following Buddhist protocol, the new ‘Chiang Rai Jade Buddha’ is not an exact copy of the original. It’s slightly smaller with other variations. The new Buddha was installed in a custom-built pavilion at the back of the main compound.