Most people want to visit Thailand when the weather is clear and sunny. That’s a mistake. The best time for many activities is the rainy season. Our visit to the Bhu Bing Palace–one the 19 official Royal Palaces in the country–proves this.
When we start from the city, it is not raining, but we can see the dark clouds sitting on top of Doi Suthep, our destination. We park at the foot of the mountain to take a songtheuw to the top; it isn’t really safer or more efficient, but it’s easier on the nerves to let someone else drive the steep, twisty road. We share the ride, most of the way, with several monks headed for the popular pilgrimage magnet, Wat Phrathat.
Halfway up, it’s raining hard, but by the time we get to the entrance to the Palace, it’s just a light drizzle. I figure we are above most of the cloud here. The temperature is ideal for an outing like this, around 65°-70° F.
This place is famous for its gardens. The height of the blooming, we learn, is around January, but even at the opposite end of the year, the beauty exceeds all expectations.
The Palace itself is an anticlimax, and anyway we can only look at the outside. Best feature is a grand old tree.
But wait, there’s more! A path leads up the mountain, into the forest. My favorite kind of exploration. And here the mist is really a feature, not a bug.
A short way up the trail, there’s a junction. A little kiosk attracts my attention. It’s an aquarium, where the native “Alligator salamanders” are on display. And what a display! I find them in flagrante delicto, thrashing all over and under the water. (A video would be more thrilling here, but video was not allowed, so I followed the rules. You can see another salamander orgy, from my California adventures, HERE)
When we continue uphill, we reach a mist-shrouded reservoir; there’s a little temple up the hill on the other side, not really discernable in the photo. A nearby grove has been converted into an art gallery for carved trunks, reminiscent of totem poles. Then, a stunning little copse of giant bamboo. The closeup doesn’t convey their size, but look how they tower over the street light in the bottom picture!
Then there’s this one strange tree…
A wonderful day–we will go back regularly. Preferably when there is rain to keep the walk cool, and crowds away.
We finished the trip with a stop at our favorite temple, Wat Palad, lower on the same mountain. I’ll post that on another page, this one is full.