Chiang Mai Day 2: Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep and iberry

On our second day in Chiang Mai, we set off to see the famous Buddhist temple Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (Doi Suthep being the name of the mountain on which the temple is located). To get to the temple, we crammed ourselves in the back of a songthaew (red taxi truck), where we tried not to sit on the laps of elderly french people or fall out of the truck.

Once we arrived, we headed up a huge staircase flanked with Nagas, or mythical sea serpents. At the top, we purchased our tickets at from the "foreigner" booth. The ticket conveniently listed the Do's and Dont's of temple etiquette, and I found out that wearing a short skirt to a Wat is a bad idea. Not to worry though, with a small deposit I was able to borrow a sarong from the temple.

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, built in 1383, has many legends surrounding it. Perhaps the most famous is the legend of the White Elephant. According to this legend, a Lanna king wanted to build a temple. To locate a holy sight, he mounted a vessel containing a holy relic on the elephant's back and set the elephant free. The elephant climbed up Mt Doi Suthep while monks followed behind. Once the elephant reached the mountaintop, it trumpeted 3 times, turned around, and dropped dead. At the Wat you can see the White Elephant Monument, artwork depicting this legend, and the vessel which contained the holy relic.

Later that day, we followed the advice of the owner of our guesthouse and paid a visit to iberry homemade, a gourmet ice cream shop owned by two siblings, one of whom is an artist and comedian.

Perhaps the best part about iberry in Chiang Mai is the surrounding garden area which contains artwork by the artist/owner, as well as lovely little areas to relax and enjoy a tasty treat. The most striking piece of art is the huge yellow sculpture that resembles a dog with a man's head, or a man with a dog's body, depending on how you look at it.

The interior of iberry is equally as funky. There are light fixtures made with drinking cups, pop art paintings, and creative decor. iberry would have been a great culinary experience if they would have actually had ice cream. Unfortunately, when we arrived on a late Monday afternoon, they had sold out of all but one of their 100+ flavors (the remaining one no one bought any scoops of --Dave.)

After walking 40 minutes in 80-something degree weather with thoughts of delicious homemade ice cream keeping me going, I was pretty disappointed when I found this out. Luckily, we happened to find another iberry shop in Bangkok a few days later.  Although the decor wasn't quite as hip and there was no garden, they did have ice cream.


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