THE BIG TRIP, THE TEMPLE COMPLEX ON THE HILL AND THE QUEEN I DON’T LIKE

I left off last time in northern Thailand at the top of the hill at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. I’ve just noticed on the notes that visitors can climb the 309 steps for free to reach the pagoda. Free! Are they kidding! As I posted last time, we took the cable car up there and viewed the panoramic sight of Chang Mai city.  We watched lots of people ring bells, there were rows and rows of them. We weren’t sure of the ‘why’ for all this, and our guide had wandered off, but just in case, we also rang several of the bells. Some were really large and their tonality to my ears at any rate, was pitch perfect.

I think this is a delightful picture of DH finding the clapper on one of the larger ones. I know I posted the other one before, but I can’t help giggling.

The whole area housed several temples, and worshippers were performing different rites at each of them. I didn’t manage to get a full explanation as to what was happening.

I took so many pictures, I’ll have to show you the rest next time.

While Queen Elizabeth is my favourite queen – a Virgo like me, we share a name and my latest colouring product also turns me a slight shade of auburn –  my least favourite monarch either male or female, is the one I have reached now – Victoria, although that wasn’t her first name.vic-haema

I started out having some sympathy with her- also a mum who wasn’t kind, and she lost her father when young, but that is where the similarity ends.

I cheered when she got her own bedroom and practiced walking down the stairs all by herself, what an achievement!  But, as soon as she realized she was queen on one hand she started throwing her weight around and on the other, turned into a silly giggly girl over a man much older than herself. Find out who later. (That’s supposed to be a cliff hanger). Definition of cliff hanger … writer cleverly writes exciting bit without completing all the knowledge leaving the readers wanting to know more, so they eagerly wait for the next episode or chapter.  And no it’s NOT Prince Albert.

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BIG TRIP CHANG MAI – ENTER THE QUEEN EVERYONE KNOWS

The last place we were taken to in northern Thailand was at Doi Suthep to visit Wat Umong and Wat Phrathat Doi. We had driven up into the forested foothills and stopped in a busy street.

and then whisked up in a cable car to the top of the hill

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Which gave us amazing views over Chang Mai

and a vast temple complex.

More pics next week.

APPALLING HISTORY LESSON

By the time Victoria ascended the throne – yes, it’s Victoria, did you guess right? – royalty did not have a terribly good name. George III had been mad, all the fathers and sons had been at each other’s throats and all those extraneous children sired by William did not impress the public either.

She began with flirting with her new Prime Minister Melbourne who was dashing, romantic and dropped compliments like leaves in autumn. No wonder she insisted on seeing him every single day.

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Till next week.

THE BIG TRIP, A COUPLE MORE TEMPLES AND THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION

Now I’m not really here doing my Monday blog – no, I’m in Miami and due to clever technology this will be scheduled to pop into your mailbox on the right day – well maybe – you may have noticed my dismal record for techie wizardry.

I was impressed with the marketing techniques in the Far East. In the western world any attraction secular or otherwise would be surrounded by stalls, shops and hawkers selling cheap, tatty souvenirs. Often there were no retail sales near the temples, and on the occasion there were, these were low key and very discreet.

The temple complex we visited had once been the home of the emerald Buddha which has a fascinating history. It was discovered in Chang Mai in the 15th century when the covering stucco began to peel off revealing it was made of semi-precious green stone.

Today it is housed in the What Phra Kaew chapel in Bangkok, and 3 times a year the king of Thailand changes the costumes adorning the statue, for the cool season, the rainy season and the hot season.

We were taken to a workshop where they worked aluminium, and I began chatting to a young man from Johannesburg who had travelled over to learn the art.

MORE HISTORICAL INCORRECT INFORMATION

The next queen was informed in her nightgown. That is to say the visitors had arrived very early in the morning after William IV has passed on during the night, so she didn’t have time to get dressed. The dear old sovereign had lasted until his successor was eighteen years and one month old. There was be NO regency!

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Of course Mummy was simply furious, especially as her previously biddable daughter’s first command was to have her mother’s bed moved out, in future she would sleep alone – well for now.

Have a great week.

THE BIG TRIP NEXT EPISODE AND BYE BYE WILLIAM

The next morning I was hobbling around – with weight and volume in mind – I’d only packed one pair of sandals and all this walking was just too much for them. The soles parted company from the uppers. Our friendly guide whisked us through a Chang Mai market (I ignored the live frogs for sale) to a cobbler on the side of the road, who repaired them in a matter of moments. Now, living in Europe I miss this kind of instant, friendly and very cheap service seen frequently in Africa as well.

I was thrilled with the repairs for we were about to cram in 4 temples in a morning – so you will understand I’m now not sure which is which. According to the itinerary, I’ve seen the Wat Chedi Luang, the Wat Phra Sing including the city pillar in a temple complex.

I was not allowed into the City Pillar because I’m female, as a very embarrassed guide explained to me. In Buddhism? I was quite taken aback. Back to that doctrine of women being unclean part of the time. I was still trying to work out even the most basic principles of this religion, and to be honest I left the Far East none the wiser. Sad, because I’d hoped to learn so much more.

I lent my iPad to the guide and he fired off these shots for me.

In one of the temples I got a blessing from a monk and then his female assistant tied a piece of white cotton on my wrist. I was told the monk was not allowed to actually touch me.img_3872

In the bizarre history lesson today we wave goodbye to William. Remember he was 63 when he climbed up on the throne, so he only reigned for 7 years – honestly, after waiting all that time poor guy and he was 71 when he popped his clogs. Now despite siring or begetting, whichever you prefer, at least eleven illegitimate children we know about, he couldn’t just hand the throne to any of them – simply not allowed under British law. So the nearest relative was the daughter of a woman he particularly disliked. They even had a stand up row in the middle of a royal banquet. Her name was Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children who had been rushed into a marriage with the fourth and youngest of George III’s sons, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Streathearn, when it was suddenly noticed there wasn’t anyone to come after William.

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Standing up at the dinner table William said, in a very loud voice:- “I trust to God that my life maybe spared for nine months longer … I should then have the satisfaction of leaving the exercise of the Royal authority to the personal authority of that young lady, heiress presumptive to the Crown, and not in the hands of a person now near me, who is surrounded by evil advisers and is herself incompetent to act with propriety in the situation in which she would be placed.”

This is a pic of Mummy

There are absolutely no prizes for guessing who was coming next.

THE BIG TRIP FURTHER ON

Sadly I waved goodbye to the ellies, counting my fingers and toes in the car on the way down the hill to make sure I wasn’t a missing a bit. (Yes, I know elephants are vegetarian). We’d heard some horrific stories about the bad treatment some of them had suffered at the hands of their owners and one poor beast was hobbling around on three legs after stepping on a landmine. I was, however, only suffering from a sore toe. I’d watched the handlers smashing those large watermelons on the ground before feeding them to the elephants. That looks easy I thought what fun, and tried it as well – result, a bruised foot. I guess it takes practice and some spare feet.

We returned to our very posh hotel in Chiang Mai through the rush hour traffic which was quite horrendous

and the largest suite we’d stayed in for a long time. We could have hired a courier to pass messages from one end to the other. Don’t you just love the condoms on offer?

Just across the road we investigated this market with all kinds of interesting food on sale.

But wimpishly, we saw an Irish tavern and treated ourselves to some very European steak and potatoes, which was a change from the rice and vegetable diet more typical of the Far East.

Some beautiful, tall women came and greeted us, gorgeously dressed. I could have kicked myself later when DGH explained (in rather pompous tones I thought) they were examples of the transvestites who are common in the city. I didn’t take pictures! They hovered for a while and perhaps they were hoping to earn a few dollars by posing for the diners. I think we were the only diners there who weren’t local residents.

Now William probably didn’t notice the industrial revolution. He was too busy in his palace siring 10 illegitimate children. He attempted to sire at least 1 legitimate heir, but that didn’t work out too well. Mind, by the time he became king at the age of 64, he was probably getting a bit past it. Two of his children born on the wrong side of the blanket had died. He had them all with his mistress an actress (still a rather scandalous occupation in those days) Dorothea Jordan (born Dora Bland) with whom he lived with for twenty years.

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I get a hint here that he wasn’t terribly fond of his wife. To begin with it was an arranged marriage to begat an heir, and even before the union William had written to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear innocent young creature, to be my wife.”

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I think she must have been quite easy going to accept the marriage – it came with a hefty sum of money from parliament but since William was 27 years older than her, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen spent many happy hours in Marks and Spencers spending most of it. On good days she popped into Harrods, especially at sale time.

Have a great week, a safe Halloween and don’t forget my new book comes out on Thursday the 3rd in the Amie series – Stolen Future, which is on pre-order right now.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4  But another blog about that nearer the time.

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