The usual elephant camp / handicraft village / long-neck tribal zoo day tours that most Chiang Mai travel agencies offer don’t appeal to us so we decided to go to Lampang instead to see Wat Phra Tat Lampang Luang. Our hotel wanted to charge us about 2000 baht for a driver to do this, so that was a fairly simple hell-no decision.
Instead we did it ourselves for considerably more fun (and yes, also a little more difficulty and frustration) at these costs:
- Songthaew to bus station: 30 baht
- Return bus trip to Lampang: 142 baht each (284 baht total)
- Return songthaew trip to Wat Phra Tat Lampang Luang: 400 baht
- Tuk tuk from bus station into town: 20 baht
- Total: 734 baht
Lampang, or at least the bits we saw of it, was really quiet considering it was a Sunday. We came across so few songthaews that I was worried the temple would be closed by the time we arrived, and visiting Wat Phra Tat Lum Pah Pah Lan as the sum total of our day’s adventures would have been a bit depressing. We probably didn’t haggle hard enough when one eventually arrived, which explains the slightly high price, but at least with some of the usual maniacal Thai driving our songthaew driver unleashed we arrived at the wat in good time.
It’s an imposing complex, situated on an incline and surrounded by fortress walls and you enter by an elaborate flight of stairs flanked by lions and nagas.
Once inside there was a real feeling of reverence, with Thai pilgrims outnumbering gawking tourists about 9:1. One group intoned chants in front of a chedi containing a relic of the Buddha as other worshippers processed around it silently with hands clasped. We snuck around trying to be discreet and respectful.
Another small shrine commemorated a historic battle victory against the Burmese, apparently featuring the bullet hole in the stonework from the actual bullet which killed the Burmese commander in question. Um, okay.
Being a woman, I was unfortunately deemed unworthy to enter a small viharn at the back of the complex to experience one of the most interesting features of the wat, but according to Alec it was really cool. It was pitch dark inside with light only entering through a small hole in the wall, such that a detailed, panoramic camera obscura image of the entire temple was projected onto the back wall. Ladies could glimpse a scaled-down version of this in another viharn to the left of the main temple where a colour image of the chedi was projected onto a concrete slab next to the entrance, again, through a chink of light in the window.
Very lame Catholic mass pun there in the caption, sorry. I don’t remember coming across this method of collecting donations from worshippers in Singapore’s Buddhist temples, though of course it’s possible I just didn’t notice or haven’t been to the ones where it’s done.
Very lame porn pun there in the caption, sorry. Can you tell it’s been a long week?
This is where the temple’s chickens live. I think it’s nicer than most of the backpacker hostels I’ve stayed in.
I found the gold-leaf monks in Wat Phra Singh quite touching, but I must say the life-size, super life-like monk figure encased in this shrine creeped me out a little.
I don’t have any experience with taking, Photoshopping or appreciating black and white photography, but tried some out anyway with the bodhi trees in the temple compound. I’m not sure if the results are decent or just meh, but I do quite like them and how they work as a pair. Comments/advice from more clued-in photographers very welcome.