Windy road, Temple Views, Trivia with Flip Cup tie breaker - CHAMPIONS!

(CHIANG MAI, Thailand  (in NW Thailand).

This day was meant to be a chill day. AKA - no concrete plans, feeling lazy kind of day. I went down to the commons area and just as soon as I sat down, I was asked if I wanted to go to the temple on the hill. YES! I honestly don't care so much about the temple (NO offense) - but the view was supposed to be amazing! Turns out both were great. The 'ringleader' recruited 8 people to make the trek - this is awesome because the Songthaew (taxi) was 600B - divided by 8 people is basically $2.75 pp. Round trip. Which is a cruise up a windy mountain for roughly 30 mins. We met in the lobby area around 1:30pm to head out. We all crammed into the songthaew - this is one of my fave parts of foreign travel... is taking foreign transportation.
Stamps Hostel HEART

 Each city I have been to here has had their own version of taxis and tuk tuks. Today was a red truck (they are all red apparently) with a bench on each side of the box and a top cover for the sun. The clearance is VERY LOW. Naturally, I took that as a prime opportunity to conk myself on the head quite hard. That's probably why there is a pad on the 'ceiling' - which appeared to have been home made and attached with some sort of glue, which had dried as it oozed out from under the cover. I'm thinking glue gun. But regardless, I was thankful for that... the direct hit to a metal framed roof would of left a mark. And lets be honest, I have my fair share of marks on my body already this trip - no more are needed! We made the windy trip up the hillside, passing numerous homemade stands - some set up with goods to sell, others just had people lounging underneath.

We turned and turned and turned and turned, and swerved around the random stray dog here and there, until we arrived at the top of the hillside.  The parking lot was clearly made for scooters more so than big red trucks - as we made the round of the small lot, we managed to not hit anything. Kudos to the driver - I  would have left my red mark on numerous objects trying to wedge into that lot, let alone the parking spot.. where the driver had to get out of the truck on the other side as there was zero room (even for a skinny Thai guy!!) for him to get out on his side. He has clearly been driving awhile with that truck! I was thankful for the ringleader gal, Thuy (from Texas!) - she coordinated the outing and was REALLY good at bartering the cost for the ride as well as bartering the driver to stick around for 2 hours so we could have a ride back. Still only 600B round trip.

We then piled out of the truck - I went to pay - but in Thailand, I have found everyone is HIGHLY trusting and trustworthy. He wouldn't even accept half payment up front "pay drop off". Ok! We started the trek to the temple - the road immediately starting an inclince the second we hopped out of the truck. Along the streets were many vendors ready to sell to the farangs (tourists - pronounced falangs).

There were 4 crooked, steep, curvy streets to walk up and then the staircase. Holy crap - they were not kidding when they said it was a lot of stairs!!!

We started our ascent - some stopping along the way 'to check out the views' (I call that catching my breath!) and others just kept stepping up

 I know myself well enough to know that if I stop for a breather, its just that much harder to gain momentum again. So onward I went. Sweat started to bead on my head 1/4 of the way up and by the time I arrived at the top - there was no stopping it. I am seriously used to sweating 95% of my day these days. Nothing less expected here. I always look around when I climb that stuff and find maybe one other person who looks as soaked as me - it amazes me how quickly my body starts the 'oh sh** time to cool her down' mode. Likely followed by (yes, IF my body had a separate brain it would say) "start now! We know she wont stop!" I paid the 40B entrance

 proceeded to the common area and took off my shoes. Funny how I once HATED being barefoot in public. Totally used to it now. Still creeps me out, but I spend way less time thinking about it. Then I geared up - putting on my sarong to cover my knees and t-shirt to cover my shoulders. After the Palace debacle, I don't even bother with the shoulder cover thing. I head up MORE stairs to enter the Wat (temple) - which was packed.

 There was a school session going on in one area - with a monk doing a little presentation to a packed room of students, maybe 10-12 years old, all sitting so that their feet did not point to the Buddha statue in the room, nor the monk.

There were tourists everywhere. Pretty sure I photo bombed over 1,000 people on this trip by now. Even when I duck to try NOT to do so, I am still taller than the average Thai and well.. sorry!

I took some photos, enjoyed the breeze coming through the temple, and wandered. Eventually I wandered to the outer grounds - the view was stunning.

Marble (I think) tile floors lead to a space overhung with lanterns which lead to a platform for soaking in the views.

 It was a bit hazy - smog and air pollution are very much present in this country.

As I walked the grounds, I soaked in the sights - the temple, the Buddha statues, the colors, the people, the flowers and plants... the sounds of nature and people and monk chants, and the smells of sweaty people, flowers, and air pollution. Ok, that is a stretch, but the smelly people and flowers are legit! lol

After checking it all out I wandered down the stairs again

- the group split up - we solo travelers are used to do our own thing so the idea was proposed of walking on our own or staying as a group - it was a unanimous weird look followed by 'lets meet at the truck in 2 hours'. Love that. I was getting hungry so I found a food vendor - I admit I chose her out of the other 50 people she was a cute older gal. I ordered 'meat on a stick' and pointed to what 'balls' I wanted - haha - she put the meat on the 'grill' - in this case a metal bucket (think the size of a bucket of beer) with 3-4 pieces of charcoal on the bottom, lit and ready to heat up my lunch. Once the meat was on the 'grill' she used a poker to stir the charcoal around a bit.

After a few minutes she handed me the meat stick and I ventured to the truck for the ride down. Back at the hostel - it was trivia night tonight. I SUCK at trivia - but who cares, its fun to try to be smart. I was in a group of 3 - lots of geography questions (not a skill area of mine), history questions (same), and social like questions (NAILED IT).

Our team ended up in a tie with another team. The other two on my team were taking things VERY seriously. I, not so much. It was great that they battled for any additional half point they could argue, but I really didn't take that much passion in the efforts. Come the tie breaker... FLIP CUP. YES!!!!! Neither of the other two teammates knew what this was. Generally, you get a red solo cup, filled with half a beer, and on GO, you drink the beer, flip the cup upside down on the edge of the table and 'flick it' with the goal of getting the cup upright. Once I did that (FIRST ONE!) my next team member goes. First team to all get the cups upright on the table wins. WE WON! The prize was the buy in money - 20B each - times a lot of players = 74B. SWEET!

 After trivia I hung out in the commons, hit a couple of bars with the hostel crew (14 of us went out) had another couple of beers and called it a day.

SUPER FUN DAY with 8 'close' new traveling friends!