climbing a mountain

There's a common eating area in the hotel where everyone can have hot water and eat their own snacks.

We prepared for this in the evening visiting 7eleven.
The taxi driver arrives early and I watch from our balcony how he cleans the car with a cloth. A dent on the front wing. The driver does not talk but is a race-man. A handful of amulets on the dashboard. Old houses with wooden lace and new stone buildings line the street, no garbage.
Midway the driver gets restless, starts to fidget around and breathe heavily. It's clear that he's fighting with slumber. He still manages to bring us to our destination, drives the car immediately in shade and goes to sleep.
The temple and stupas are already visible piled up on top of the mountain. It is called Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn. Around 50 km from Lampang in direction of Chiang Mai. The ticket includes a songtao ride to the upper car park. The price today is 80 baht instead of 100 but foreigners have to buy an additional national park ticket for 200 baht because the temple is located in park territory. Last year there wasn't any foreigner price yet. We share the songtao with a bunch of school children and the ride is accompanied by their screaming. The road goes straight up and is very narrow so it's no wonder that they don't want tourists to drive or walk here on their own. From the upper car park it is 800 more meters on stairs. Up, of course. The temple consists of two viewpoints and many stupas, all built on high steep cliffs. Mystical scenery. Fifteen years ago a group of monks started to carry bricks up the mountain and it took them two years to make a place like this. I sit on a platform and look at locals making selfies. A kilometer down there flows a river and stretches the plain that disappears in haze further away. Beating of gongs, tinkle of bells and laughter in the air. We spend a long time on the other platform for the driver to have enough sleep. During the whole event we see four foreigners and there aren't many locals either. Incomprehensible. Before riding down we have an iced coffee, sitting on a rocking chair with a crooked table looking over the valley. We entertain ourselves with catching wasps in coffee cups and setting them free again.
The driver looks fresh now and there's no fidgeting on the way back. In front of the hotel he happily accepts the agreed price, does not ask for a tip or complain that we were away too long.
We head for a walk. This city also has its rooster story. The god Indra was worried that the locals would not wake up in time to give Buddha alms during his upcoming visit, so he created a white rooster to crow at dawn. It has remained the city’s symbol ever since. That explains the roosters here. It is probably a conspiracy of some rooster producers to spread all kinds of tales so that people would keep buying rooster statues and pictures.
Another legend explains why the city is not very popular. An early king of Lampang mistakenly executed an innocent goddess, Nan Suchada. Before dying, however, she cursed the city — so this is the reason for the city’s current provincial backwater status. The city is weird indeed, for it has a provincial feel but on every step you see cozy places where people pop up, speaking fluent English. For example a gourmet café with a pile of books on the table and stylish photos of life in a coffee plantation on the walls.
We take pictures of wooden houses and a couple of temples. Stroll by the river. Buy fruits from the same lady as yesterday. Have dinner on a balcony by the river where the male waitress (really) reacts weird when we leave a tip.

in provincial capital
clay and teak

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