Northern Thai manhole covers such as this one in Chiang Mai are uninspired, but functional.
Phitansulok's Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahatat houses the Phra Buddha Chinnarat, considered by many Thais to be the most beautiful Buddha image.
Tourism represents perhaps 6% of Thailand's GDP. In addition to their regular police, Thailand has Tourist police, recognizable by their berets, to handle crimes involving tourists. This gentleman is patrolling Phitansulok.
This Thai cemetery is located on the grounds of Wat Khaha Sawan.
Molds for sitting Buddhas at the Buranathai Buddha Image Foundry.
Phitansulok's most famous street-food-in-the-form-of-insects vendor.
A sign for the Phayao Knowledge Park. How can you go wrong with a name like that?
Hucksters sell caged birds so you can gain merit (and warm fuzzies) by freeing them. Of course the hucksters promptly catch the birds again, so it is all for naught.
More Ultraman fruit juice packs than you can shake a rubber-suited stick at.
Chiang Mai was officially founded in 1292, but these walls date from 1800.
Wat Phantao dates from the Lanna Empire (which means it could be anywhere from 1259 CE through the 1800s...) and features wooden architecture and, while I was there, a wicker-esque chedi and boundary markers.
Offerings for Chiang Mai's City Pillar in a small structure on the grounds of Wat Chedi Luang. Historical tidbit: In the 1550s, Phra Mekuti proscribed worshiping the City Pillar, to which people attribute a period of hardship in the city.
Wat Chedi Luang's actual chedi was damaged by an earthquake in 1465. the cables are part of a pulley system allowing supplicants to pour water on the top of the chedi.
One of Wat Chedi Luang's mondops contains relics from various Buddhist monks of repute.
At Wat Chedi Luang. Wat Srisuphan had one as well. Both were well worth it.
Another pulley system for watering a chedi -- this one at Wat Phra Sing. Note the black staining at the top from the watering.
Monls at Wat Phra Sing perform a 100 Day ceremony for the benefit of a person who died 100 days ago. Photography was very rarely proscribed.
I do not know the story behind this bridge decoration.
Most wats seemed to be undergoing some form of construction, but Wat Srisuphan's wihan was the most extreme and accessible that I saw.
Plans for the interior of the new Wat Srisuphan wihan.
Though photography was permitted inside the new wihan, women were not. This is regrettably typical of Thai Buddhism.
People could buy a decoration and inscribe it with a personal message to help pay for the renovations. Women were allowed to do this.
A float -- and local folks -- at the 2008 Chiang Mai flower festival.
One of the food stands at the 2008 Flower Festival. The rotee banana was yummy.
The site for Wat Doi Suthep was chosen by a white elephant.
I really suspect that this critter is mouthing part of a mantra, for the one to the left of the stairs has its mouth closed. But the label offers other possibilities.
A group of young performers preparing to play for education baht at Wat Doi Suthep.
Various cute stickers and such at one of Chiang Mai's street markets.
The National Scout Organization of Thailand is open to boys and girls. These boys allowed me to interrupt reading a manga with good grace.
This CD shop has an impressive selection of all sorts of Thai CDs for reasonable prices. It's a bit off the beaten path, though, and I have no idea what its name is....
These motorcycles with sidecar-cum-sales booths are very common.
Elephants painting at the Mae Sa Elephant Camp. Their works ranged from the figural, like the flowers being done here, to the abstract. Amusingly, nothing I would describe as fauvist.
The information hut at the Mae Sa Elephant Camp contained a host of information about the physiology and sociology of Elephants. Elephanst also have a rich history in Thailand, which was not covered.
Elephants at the Mae Sa Elephant Camp wash themselves in this river. These fortunates catch any dung released to prevent contamination downstream.
Orchids being raised without the benefit of dirt.
Cabbages and Condoms, an organization that promotes reproductive responsibility in Thailand has several restaurants and a resort. It has won a Gates Award. Interesting.
Wat Jedyod -- one of Chiang Ra's neighborhood Wats -- is classified as a third grade royal temple.
The roof of Wat Jedyod's porch was painted with mystical diagrams.
A head-shot of one of Wat Jedyod's nagas.
Some drawings by young Buddhists at Wat Jedyot.
Ladder and scaffolding for work on the chedi spire at Chaing Rai's Wat Klang Wiang.
The streets of Chiang Rai -- at least the main ones -- are decorated with lanterns in the traditional style. These are not the lanterns used in the Loy Kratong (Yi Peng).
Chiang Rai's night market as seen, ironically, in the morning.
Monks receiving food at the start of the day. Thai people earn merit by providing the food.
This bank had a mourning screen for the king's sister on its ATM.
A dramatically over-sized moth.
Ban Lorcha is an Akha village that has been transformed into a living museum. This woven pattern is a spirit ward at one of the village entrances. http://www.pda.or.th/chiangrai/ban_lorcha.htm
One of the more interesting facets of Akha communal entertainment is the village swing. For those who are not impressed: Swings are fun.
Part of Ban Lorcha proper. Akha women are traditionally known for their elaborate silver headdresses, but this child has more contemporary fashion.
Though living in a mostly traditional style, the Akha of Ban Lorcha have access to some modern plumbing and electricity.
This is a Padaung tribal village-cum-shopping center. The textiles are gorgeous, but the experience is creepy. As with many minority cultures, their situation is controversial: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7215182.stm
The Padaung are also called the long-necks because of the brass rings they wear which distort their collarbones. Not that this picture shows any of that.
This is a pair of traditional Yao houses. Stilt construction is wise in the wet season.
This is a tiller under a Musser tribal house. Note the wheel adaptation to work in muck.
The naga staircase leading to the upper portion of Wat Doi Wao. Most people are content to shop in the local markets rather than climb the hill.
The hilltop chedi of Wat Doi Wao. Note the three-headed northern naga.
Mae Sai's monstrous checkpoint between Thailand and Burma.
Shrines at the Golden Triangle. The river on the other side is the Mekong, and that's Laos in the distance.
Wat Phra That Pukhao, I think. It looks like a stained glass boat with large golden Buddha.
The Golden Triangle -- famed for its opium and warlords -- has become a tourist destination. This is Mekong. The hills in the distance are Laos; the spit on the left is Burma; Thailand is just to the left and that little island up ahead is claimed by no one. Go for it.