From Wat Tham Chiang Dao, it’s a short hop to the next attraction: Wat Tham Pha Plong. This temple is dedicated to a famous monk who lived and taught here, and whose remains are buried here. Situated high on the mountain, Pha Plong is accessible only on foot–via a stairway of 510 steps. Ready?
First, another view of the amazing cloud-scapes around the mountain top. Then the Dragon greeting us at the start of the stairs.
A beautiful climb through the jungle. A rest stop at step 201, still going strong.
Our first view of the gold-peaked Chedi. The main part of the temple is to the right. It’s higher up than it looks, as you’ll see.
Approaching the first building of the temple complex. Nice view of the clouds around the peak.
A little higher, past another couple of buildings, and shoes off to enter the main temple. This is the building devoted to the remains of the famous monk, and it’s full of pilgrims and tourists, praying and gawking at relics and icons. I’m not interested in this; we are not finished climbing. But there seems to be no onward path.
In an obscure corner of the entry room to the temple, there’s another stairway. Hmmm…
Sure enough, it climbs out to the base of the Chedi–a “secret” back way! No one else is here.
There is a front stairway, too… and a view down to the deck from which we first saw this.
Also from the front, a great view eastward
… and west, to see again the dance of cloud and mountaintop
Inside is surprisingly elaborate in decorations. Most chedis have not much of anything inside, but this is a complete chapel. With real marble wall panels, and bright color prints, the whole thing looks more like Italian Renaissance than anything Asian. And the acoustics are great for chanting!
The entire trip is so inspiring, I’m not even tired. But climbing down again is a bit taxing (if you wonder why a must carry my hiking poles everywhere, protecting my knees on the descent is a big part of it).