Exploring Thailand's Temple Ruins by Horse and Carriage
For less than it would cost for a taxi between bars in San Francisco, we rented a private tuk tuk and driver for the morning to visit the temple ruins of Wiang Kum Kam on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, Thailand. The ruins cover an area that is filled, not only with ancient and modern temples, but also family homes. We splurged on a private horse and colorful carriage with driver. Part of the thrill was voyeuristically peering into the patios of private homes from our carriage as we went from temple to temple.
The site is an oasis, where city dwellers can worship while marveling at the beauty of the ancient sculpture whose red and white brick is partially covered with green foliage. One of the most beautiful Buddha sculptures, of black stone draped in a saffron sash, was renovated through the efforts of concerned neighbors. Visitors can stroll in the park-like setting, but the site is not just for gawkers. We encountered a Thai family fishing in a pond that had formed inside a ruin. A shrine with fresh marigolds, cigarettes, bananas, recently burned candles and incense, and miniature sculpture overlooked the family as they fished.
The photo above was taken in a busy area of Wiang Kum Kam, where vendors sell offerings to worshippers and new and ancient sculpture and architecture exist side by side. Hire a tuk tuk and driver through your hotel in the old city. The tour takes less than half a day and is absolutely lovely!