On Saturday we were up early. Poached eggs on bread for breakfast again (we realised we were eating way too much egg, and it was having side effects), with coffee and the weird milk, croissants, and even spicy stir fry if you wanted it.
An air-con taxi picked us up as we travelled west, to Doi Suthep, and the King’s winter palace up on the mountain. Our driver was Mr Swing and that is what he did on the winding roads up the mountain.
In winter there’s normally an astonishing view across the city, the haze meant we could just about see there was a city there, but not much else.
We went to the palace first, “Phra tamnak phu phing”, where my shorts weren’t suiting and I had to don a pair of 3/4 lengths over the top, nicely striped in red and white. The gardens specialised in cool weather flowers, most of which we were quite used to and not overly interested in. Most paths had “do not enter” signs all over them and the water fountain show was devoid of water.
Down the mountain a bit, we went to the hill side temple, Doi Suthep, complete with covered cable car to take you to the top. This temple felt more like a tourist trap, photo touts covered the temple grounds, flower offerings were on sale - 10B to place them on a shrine, only to have them picked up and sold to another customer 5 mins later. The entrance was strewn with market stalls and groups of children performing traditional dance.
We walked around the chedi, clockwise as we were meant to, and headed back. Before leaving altogether, we stopped at a Jade factory recommended by our driver. Quite clearly a front for people trying to sell expensive jade jewellery, we watched their video, had their free drinks and promptly left. I’m sure our driver would have received commission.
Not the greatest trip in the world, we enjoyed being back by the pool for the afternoon. We nipped out to the local flower market (talat tonlamyai) a bit later, to see vendors selling gorgeous lotus plants, orchids, roses and cooler flowers brought down from the mountains, jasmine necklaces for 5B each (oh how we love that smell), and even fake orchids which greatly pleased Sam.
Inside the little road shacks people worked hard on complicated flower arrangements, huge wreaths and structures cleverly using banana leaves.
That evening we ate at the lovely looking “Whole Earth restaurant”, a thai-indian place with red parasols and a large wooden building at the centre, with outdoor balcony seating. Take off your shoes before entering.
For starters we had the tempura shrimp with other battered veggies, mini corn and even broccoli. Very tasty. For mains we shared an indian vegetable curry alongside a deep fried sea bass with sweet and sour sauce. Scrumptious and filling.