We head back into Chiang Mai for a tour of Wat Suan Dok.
As we pull into the parking lot the nearby yard filled with small, elaborately carved marble mausoleums (looking like something dropped here from 19th century Europe) immediately draw my attention – they are distinctly different from anything else here and look out-of place amid the tropical greenery.
I quickly start off in that direction, but Lane calls me back. That is not where we are going.
Instead Chris leads us around and into the large open-sided wihan.
Despite its open sides, it is strangely dark and cavernous inside the huge structure. Through the gloomy light, a series of giant Buddhas tower above the worship space.
As we sit first in front of the Buddhas with Chris, a couple is sitting off to the side listening to a monk. We ask Chris what they are talking about. She listens awhile, sorting their words from the rest of the background sounds, and then tells us the couple is engaged to be married and is getting advice on on how to have a successful marriage. They are still listening to him as we leave the main part of the temple to walk around to the back, which is watched over by a towering Buddha.
The worship space here is open and airy, decorated with only a few elaborately carved objects.
Brightly colored paper lanterns hang from the eaves. . .
. . . above an intricate fence that separates us from the large golden chedi and ornate royal tombs beyond.
Finally we walk back around the side of the temple to walk amidst the gleaming marble tombs and chedis. It is brilliant white and sparkling gold under the hot mid-day sunshine.