Thailand chock full of Buddhist temples


Some very old, some sort of old, some probably built within the last century. The really old ones are concentrated in certain place, Ayuttaya and Sukhothai. These are older cities in the middle of the country, both served as capital cities back when Bangkok was just a marshy place down river.

Even though I’m not a Buddhist, I dug visiting these really ancient piles of brick, especially the ones with vegetation growing out of them. They’re every bit as impressive as Aztec or Mayan ruins, and the ruined Jesuit missions of Paraguay and Argentina.

As anyone who has toured the cathedrals of Europe or Latin America knows, they all start to look the same after a while. Same with these Thai temples, at least to this Catholic Midwesterner. But Thai Buddhists probably don’t think so, and this is definitely a Buddhist country. Some people try to say the United States is a Christian country. It isn’t. But Thailand is definitely a Buddhist country. The King is the head of the church and the Buddhist church is enshrined in the Constitution.

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Addicted to the Samoeng Loop


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Serious bicyclists do it in a morning. It takes me that long on a motor scooter. The amount of concentration it takes just to stay focused and not kill yourself is intense. Some places the road has disintegrated and you come upon it without warning. The sheer up and downhill of it is exhausting, even if dead dinosaur grease is doing all the work.

Yesterday I returned to the little road, not much more than a driveway that goes to the Hmong village and provides a very scenic shortcut to the already scenic highway. It rejoins the main road at the top of a ridge, where it is a thousand foot plunge to Hang Dong on the right and Samoeng on the left.

We went into Samoeng for lunch, which adds another twenty minutes to the trip. It sits in an important agricultural valley. Three trucks absurdly overloaded with garlic were in front of us on the road out of town.

My goal is to organize and expedition of like-minded schooter riders to go to Pai from Samoeng. I figure we’ll have to leave Chiang Mai at first light to comfortably make it up the twisty road before dark. Getting caught in the dark on a very minor road in the deep woods would be no fun at all.

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