Train to Chiang Mai
Dawn. Black silhouettes against pearly skies. Landscape full of variety -- hills and plains, mists, wide flat valleys cultivated with rice between hill ranges.
Allergies set in on the train. Began taking Seldane. On arrival at Prince Hotel, took a doxycycline before breakfast. The combination of sleeplessness, head full of allergy shit, and redolence of Thai breakfast combined with doxy to make me throw up. Barely made it out of the restaurant, across the street, thru the lobby, up the stairs, down the hall, into the room before losing it.
We drove up to the Wat at Doi Suthep. The mountain drive gave a great panorama of Chiang Mai -- a much bigger city than I expected -- "skyscrapers" even. This is no Casablanca. (In city, note beautiful trees with clusters of bright orange flowers -- "peacock something" -- less dramatic yellow ones: Golden Showers.) The wat gave a much stronger religious impression than the ones in Bangkok: there were older monks seated in 2 sanctuaries giving blessings to visitors who kneeled before them, by stirring holy water (?) with a whisk broom and shaking sprinkles on them. Around the golden chedi a young monk led a group of men (inner circle) and women (outer circle) in a chant -- around and around -- very moving and solemn. Bells -- wat surrounded by bells. We were encouraged to grab a clapper and ring -- helps us feel better by chasing away evil spirits -- also attracts travelers to the Wat Phra That. 290 steps to top from parking area. Vendor stalls with roasted meats and corn and waffles seemed cleaner, more appetizing than greasy Bangkok. Some bought birds in bamboo pouches to be released at top of wat.
Songs heard. "The Heat Is On" at Prince Hotel cafe. "Midnight Special" on tape in minibus.