Somewhere to escape to
It looks like those paintings you see in Chinese takeaway calendars. That's how I describe this little temple in the north of Thailand. It's a short distance north of Chiang Mai, but feels a million miles away from the traffic and pollution. It's set into the side of Doi Luang Chiang Dao, a very steep and very rugged mountain. There's a little golden pagoda I like to go to and relax. It's surrounded by a lush canopy of tropical vegetation, and in the dry season you can see forever, to the distant mountains, and beyond.
The 600 steps up to the pagoda take you through intense sounds of cicadas, organic smells and rich textures of green. Men in orange go about their chores. Some will talk to you, and offer you a cup of tea. A feeling of calm excitement comes to you as you climb the steps.
For a couple of years I had a pain in my foot, and listening to my father describe a similar infliction at a similar age, and a curative visit to a Greek monastery, I walked up the 600 steps to the top, and every day, I hoped my pain away, believing in the collective energy that the temple and mountain possessed. After three days, the pain had gone.
It's my place to go to, to get away from the madness of urban life and I always stay at Malee's bungalows, which over the years of visiting Thailand, has become a home to me. AM
Images: copyright Alan McArthur