Wat Phra Singh is about one block from our Rachamankha Hotel. This wat is the main wat in the old walled city of Chiang Mai. The chedi has a new recent facelift. During our past visits, the chedi was white washed with moldy black/green areas. The devout Buddhists paid a few bahts to pull a bucket of water on a pulley cable up to the top of the chedi where the water spilled out of the bucket at the top of the cable and ran down the chedi wall staining it’s entire side.
Low and behold, the chedi is now been covered in brilliant gold leaf since our last visit 2 years ago. The chedi was molded with a thin metal covering then gold leaf was applied to the metal. Gold leaf is much more brilliant on smooth metal when burnished than on stucco.
Wat Phra That Doi Suteph is one of the holiest temples in Theravada Buddhism. Founded in the 1300’s when Buddhism arrived into South East Asia. Buddhist Ceylon (Sri Lanka) shipped tea throughout Asia (and onto England).Hindu India shipped their plethora of spices the same route.The route was overland into China and onto the Silkroad into the Middle East and Europe. The one problem was the constant invasion and robberies and death at the hands of the Monghal hordes. The solution was to sail East over the Bay of Bengal and run the tea and spices overland through Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) to the South China Sea and sail the good north into China avoiding Mongolia.
Along with the goods into Southeast Asia came Buddhism from Ceylon and Hinduism from India. In Cambodia the great temples of the Angkor Wat complex were each built hundreds of years apart under various Kings some were Hindu then some were Buddhist. In the end, Buddhism won out but Theravada Buddhism today is ritualistically intertwined with Hinduism mainly about multiple lives to attain Nirvana (Like Hindu caste system).
Back to Doi Suteph, they had a collection box with an elaborate sign requesting donations to build an exact replica of Doi Suteph in Chino,California.
In the center courtyard of Doi Suteph is a very old Bohdi tree. These temple trees were planted as young seedlings all descendants of the original Bohdi tree which Buddah meditated under. We tore (gently) off two leaves from the tree for souvenirs.