Doi Southep – Chiang Mai Mountain Splendor

A singular long avenue in a city that rambles as maybe inner Los Angeles rambles – in dizzying profusion and seemingly without order.

Long lovely zigzag road through the sudden jungle and up, up, up with the van swinging and swanging around scooters and tuktuks and taxis and special enclosed mini-pickups that draw pilgrims ineluctably up the mountain the way water is drawn up through a tree.

Fierce multi-headed guardian naga and 300+ steps. The first collection of foreigners I’ve seen in a few days.

The steps are new-seeming and deceptively irregular.

The mad-faced guardians seem welcoming. Taking off your shoes while you buy tickets (tourism only).

The cheddi, the great bell-shaped dome in the middle of the temple buildings, is coated in gold. Not Disney gold paint but actual gold. The top tier of it reaching like a lightning rod toward the cloudy sky is made, supposedly, of solid gold.

The failing of the day brought an unreasonable gleam to the glass in the buildings.

The night made the gathered buddhas an accessible cipher. Each of them seemed to be saying, “Do not be me. Do not try. See how I am most myself? Do you see?”

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