Gabriela Vieira:

Natural do Rio de Janeiro, mais precisamente Araras, um vale na serra de Petrópolis. Geminiana. Botafoguense com muito orgulho, lançada no mundo com 17 anos, quando comecei minha carreira como modelo. Desde então cigana, curiosa por natureza, apaixonada por viagens, culturas diversas, línguas, culinária e até um pouco de moda...

Morei 5 anos em Milão, 2 em Paris e nos ultimos quase 6 anos, em Nova York. Atualmente de volta a minha origem e cidade do coração, Rio de Janeiro (mas sabe se lá até quando...)


  • Gabriela Vieira

Chiang Mai - A gem on the North of Thailand

Chiang Mai, in the north of the country, was our first stop in the trip we made in Thailand . I have no doubt it was the best decision on starting it there, leaving chaotic New York - at Christmas time - looking for peace and balance . CM is the second largest city in the country - though its doesn't look like, cause there are no tall buildings - and most important culturally on the north, auto titled creative city .

It is strategically located in the middle of a mountainous region, chosen to be the capital of the Lanna kingdom. The entrance to the historic center is made through the gates that remain of the original wall built in the 1400s in order to protect the city. It is also the venue of one of the most beautiful religious spectacles in the world, the lantern festival, which happens in November or December - according to the lunar calendar . For sure you've seen screen savers from it!

There are about 300 buddhist temples in town most in the center and few meters away from each other.

The most important thing when planning a visit to temples in Thailand, is how to dress. Knees and shoulders must be covered, both for men and women.

The heat/ humidity are killing, that said, it's not an easy task to cover all yourself. Prioritize light fabrics, light colors and easy-to-wear shoes - such as havaianas - cause you will remove them countless times to enter each temple. For women the tip is to take a handkerchief, as some temples also do not accept low-cut shirts.

1st Day:

- Wat Phan On:

Its golden pagoda ( chedi ) already attracts attention and invites us from outside. This temple has a handicraft and food market outside as well.

Inside, note the beauty of decorated columns and golden Buddha sitting in the background. It was built in 1500, still very well maintained, result of the work and devotion of the monks who lives just behind the temple.

What Phan Tao:

Made almost all of Teka wood - one of the toughest in the world - this is a very beautiful temple, somewhat rustic , has been a palace in the past and deserves your visit. Notice the wood carved details in your entry , the money offer tickets hanging from the ceiling; and in the garden , flags and lanterns, the bronze bells and the chedi (tower) in the back.

- Wat Chedi Luang:

Immediately next door is the oldest temple of the city, also built in the 14th century , the structure was inspired by the Khmer temples of Cambodia to house the ashes of a king. Completed 80 meters high , but partially destroyed by an earthquake . Its ruins - well preserved - were the tallest structure in Chiang Mai for many centuries

It was considered so important that became the "guardian" of the most important sacral object of Thailand, the Emerald Buddha which today is properly protected at the main temple in Bangkok.

Walking around find the wooden temple with decorated dragons on the doors and the one with a reclining Buddha.

* Monk Talk: There is a designated place for a chat with the monks under the shade of a tree, in order for them to practice English answering foreigners questions about their lifestyle/religion. PS : Women should be careful not to touch them and not pass them on objects.

In the biggest temple of the complex stands one of the most beloved images of Budha in the city.

The Presiding Budha - standing with a raised hand - transmits world peace and a message for not fighting with relatives , referring to a story when groups coming from the same family almost went to war because of a water shortage.

-Wat Phra Singh:

Another one of the most venerated images is located few meters from there. In mid-April , when the Songrak festival takes place this statue is carried out and receives water jets when passing by the streets of town.

Here we also saw many people actually praying, including this cutie, being taught by her mother with her ​​little hands together and inclining herself in respect of the statue!! I could not resist "stealing" a picture of that moment!!

In one morning we visited the main temples of the historic center and in the afternoon we went to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which sits atop one of the mountains around the city .

The best way to get there is taking the red minibus that leaves the gate Chang Puak on the north , or Thae Phae gate on the east. It takes about 40 minutes zigzagging in endless curves and costs 100baht per person. Once there, you need to climb the 309 steps - or catch a tram - to get to the fact temple.

Trust me, all worth it!!

Before taking your shoes off to see the inside, scroll through the bloomy area which are statues of elephants, the bells and a beautiful terrace decorated with carved wood and a view of the whole city.

Once inside, enjoy the beauty of the golden stupa , the Buddha in green glass and other decorative details . Be aware , the place is quite crowded with both tourists and local visitors who have huge respect for the site and there make their prayers.

We arrived back in town around 5 pm, when the preparation for the famous sunday street market was just begining. Originally located on Ratchadamnoen street - the main street in historic center - today the market has been expanded to its perpendicular streets, forming a huge fair with craft stalls offering different types of souvenirs, clothes and food for all tastes .

Comparing to all markets we visited in thai cities, this was by far the best and most original.

It was here that we understood why Chiang Mai is called creative city.

Among so many delicacies, you must have a natural tropical fruit juice, the mango sticky rice and the Khao Soi, a traditional soup from the north - that you CAN'T find in the rest of the country (believe me, I tried!) - with influences from Burma, made with curry, coconut milk, chicken and noodles - also crispy on top !!!

I'm mouthwatering just by remembering my favorite meal of the entire trip!!!

The mango sticky rice, most famous dessert of the country, is nothing more than a rice pudding made ​​with coconut milk accompanied by slices of a super-sweet-mango-that-melts-on-the-mouth!