We started our stay in Chiang Mai with a private tour. I had read fantastic things about Paul Collins with Best Tuk Tuk Tours, so we hired him for the day. I had emailed him prior to our arrival with a few requests. I really wanted to see Doi Suthep temple, the cottage industries in Bor Sang, and an orphanage. He had some fantastic suggestions for our itinerary, such as a monk chat.
We started our day with a ride up the winding mountain road to Doi Suthep, a temple built in the 14th century. The temple was on a beautiful mountain top with fantastic views of Chiang Mai. The temple is very sacred to Buddhists but also really popular with tourists. We ate lunch at a local restaurant, which was really good. Super cheap, too (40 baht, about $1.25).
After lunch we visited several cottage industries in Bor Sang village. Off a small road was a family-owned lacquerware business. The owner showed us the steps he takes to create each piece. His wife then carves intricate designs and his daughter paints gorgeous details. The umbrella village was larger – many women were making silk umbrellas. The silk factory was interesting. We saw the various stages, from silk moths having relations to silkworms chomping leaves to the cocoons being boiled. Women created silk fabric on large looms and would tailor clothing to your specific measurements.
Our next stop of the day was my favorite – Agape Home for Children. 95% of the children are HIV positive. They were so happy and looked so healthy. The boys loved my husband’s hat and sunglasses and wore them everywhere. They would have taken his shirt, if he’d let them! We pushed them on the swings and merry go round and watched them jump on the trampoline. Most of the kids warmed up to us quickly.
Our last stop of the day was Chedi Luang temple to talk with a monk. Paul highly suggested this and he didn’t disappoint. The monk we chatted with was from Laos. We were a little nervous at first but the conversation was fantastic. We had lots of questions and he was anxious to practice his English. I guess I always thought the rules associated with Christian priests were the same as those with Buddhists. My preconceived ideas were so wrong!