Banner for John P Seely.com - Travel Writing and Photography
 


Home Thailand Maesai ⇒ Wat Pradhat Doi Wao

Maesai: Thailand’s Northern Gate

5Wat Pradhat Doi Wao

A group of Buddhist novices.
A group of Buddhist novices.

It wouldn’t be Thailand without any temples and Maesai is no exception. Maesai must be a money spinner for some judging by the brand-new Chinese temples that have sprung up in recent years. The newest is yards from the customs house but looks little different from hundreds of pthers around the region. Another good indication of a city’s wealth in South East Asia is the number of gold shops it can support and Maesai has a goodly number.


The city’s main Buddhist temple, Wat Pradhat Doi Wao, looks over the city from the top of a high hill. If you don’t feel equal to the 300 or so steps to the top then a motorcycle will take you for 20 baht. The temple is on two levels. The new viharn and other buildings are now surrounded by the market and are hardly places of seclusion and tranquillity. Up another flight of steps and at the top are a chedi belonging to an older temple, a couple of small shrines, and unexpectedly, an enormous statue of a scorpion. There is a panoramic view over Tachilek and Maesai and you can appreciate just how small Maesai really is. Tachilek is right across the river at the foot of some large hills the tops of which all have pagodas. It appears a substantial town.

The scorpion of Maesai
The scorpion of Maesai

Halfway up the hill to Wat Pradhat Doi Wao is a recently completed and richly decorated viharn, just before the Naga steps to the old temple. Here are the dormitories and other living areas to the temple, with market stalls running along the walls, even right up under the windows. Today it sits at the centre of a network of covered streets selling all kinds of goods for local visitors, from blankets and shoes to mobile phone covers and MP3 players.

How the monks can remain aloof from this bustle and noise is one of the great mysteries of the east.

 
Banner for John P Seely.com - Travel Writing and Photography