Chiang Saen: The Town of Stupas    

Ancient stupa
People are still throwing water. It's Friday. I'm guessing that means it will last through the weekend. Bangkok has an excuse since the festivities got postponed due to the protests.

We decided to go visit Chiang Saen. Most tourists go to Chiang Saen to get to the Golden Triangle and Opium Museum. We don't really care about either. The Golden Triangle commands a view of Laos and Burma (I'm guessing they pretty much look the same) and a sign (now they've added a Buddha). I think we've seen enough about Opium. The reason we decided to go to Chiang Sean is in a free magazine I picked up that has illustrated maps, the one for Chiang Saen showed lots of drawings of little ruins.

We were early enough on the road that the water throwers weren't out yet. There was some traffic and once again we were stunned by the number of pickup trucks.

After we got out of the Chiang Rai sprawl, we could see rice fields and bamboo covered hills, some with stupas on top.

Chaing Saen is really littered with ruins of wats, walls, and stupas. It was attacked by the Burmese and was eventually under Burmese control. During these battles, is when, I guess, everything was destroyed. The main wat, Wat Chedi Luang, had a towering stupa. The wat's main building had been destroyed leaving low remains of brick walls. However, a wooden roof had been built to cover the area and it continued to be used as a wat

Stupa of Wat Chedi Luang

Chiang Saen was a lot more bustling than Chiang Rai. They had a market/festival going on. We walked past vendors to the riverside where huge speakers appeared to be broadcasting music to Laos. I remembered the loud music we heard when we were inn Vientiene and wondered if they felt Laos needed the benefit of Thailand's big speakers to broadcast music to them. There were lots more food venders on the river side.

View of Laos from Thailand

Earlier there had probably been a parade and there was a float sitting by the side of the road. Swans and nagas were made by folding leaves and flowers in to feathers and scales and other features. There were elephants which were covered with poppy seeds. Trucks cruised around the town trying to douse people. We subtly made our way back up the main street stopping at various stupas.

Flower float

Poppy seed decorated elephants

Only a bit of the platform remained of "Abandoned Temple #6", but a tree had grown where the stupa had been. Someone had wrapped gold cloth around the base as they had done to the regular stupas.

Tree stupa

We went outside the walls and walked by more stupas, and along the city walls. Then we took the bus back to Chiang Rai. The water throwers were out and hit the bus several times.

Blue headed lizard near city walls

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