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Wat Ket – Chiang Mai

I found myself with some time to kill here in Chiang Mai – what to do? I’m not into the cooking classes or bathing elephants, or overrun hill tribe trekking … Even if it is a whiskey trek where your never drunk alone.

Enter destination Wat Ket or aka Wat Gate. The temple where a quirky museum tells the history of Thailand.

Wats (Buddhist temples) are a dime a dozen here in Chiang Mai, and most of Thailand for that matter. At Wat Ket (also spelled Wat Kate and Wat Gate), the museum is far more interesting than the temple it’s a part of.

The Wat Gategaram Museum was established on December 19, 1999 by a group of philanthropists. The former abbot’s living quarters were renovated to make the museum, along with newspaper clippings, pictures, and plenty of other stuff.

One of the many groups of photos on display. Not pictured elsewhere are a number of other objects on display – a gramaphone, weighing scales, old-school fans, water pumps, and plenty more. It really does feel like a time warp in many ways.

That’s an elephant skull, a reminder of how huge these creatures are. There’s also a pile of elephant bones in another room, seemingly without the room to display them better. Also scattered about are a number of magazines and books, typewriters, bicycles … it’s like a flea market.

Some old Buddhist fans on display …

Various radios …

The monks used to listen to Frank … good taste.

The majority of the museum is in need of both better displays, better preservation techniques, and better lighting. The building itself is far from weather-tight, and makes me wonder how well the exhibits inside are bound for this world. Perhaps it’s a reminder of the Buddhist precept of impermanence, or perhaps the donations aren’t yet at a level where they can get everything in a new-fangled sort of case. It’s worth the visit, but try not to set your expectations too high.

Name: Wat Ket Museum (also spelled Wat Gate)
Address: 96 Ban Watgate, Chiang Mai
Directions: From the northeast corner of Chiang Mai’s square moat, head east on Wichayanon road. Take it all the way to the river and the T (about 600 meters), then turn right. Go 200 meters, then turn left and cross the river. Take the first right after crossing the river, then go about 300 meters and look left for the entrance.
Hours: 9am-4pm (for the museum), during daylight hours for the temple
Admission: free

Random portrait.

Random guys heading up a mountain to do some puja … I love the pens. Pushkar, Rajastan, India – November 2011

There’s this interesting phenomena that I’ve only experienced in India. Strangers constantly stop you and ask you to take their picture. It’s kind of weird, yet kind of charming. Definitely sincere.

Wat Banan

Yesterday, we found ourselves in Battambang – looking for something to do. We’d already visited the old abandoned railway station, and walking around in the humid heat – in a dirty city wasn’t cutting it. So we hired a couple of young guys and their motorbikes and we took off into the Cambodian countryside.

We came across ‘Wat Banan’ – which is kind of like a mini version of Angkor Wat. Situated about 20K south of Battambang, it was begun in 1057 then completed a century later. It is built atop a hill about 400 meters. When the French Henri Mouhot visited the site in 1858, he found numerous sculptures of Buddha and other deities.

Atop the hill, reached by a staircase of 358 steps of laterite, there is a treed in view looking over the Sangker River which meanders between palm trees, rice paddies and traditional villages.

Thick as fish

Chao Phraya river cat fish … so thick you could walk on them.

Bound for BKK

Here we sit in the Hong Kong airport … 9pm HK time, eating onion rings and drinking sociables in the lounge. Below is the big boy we flew in on from Vancouver … Next flight in an hour for Bangkok.

The ISS in orbit

watching the Perseid meteors this evening – and along comes the ISS : International Space Station. Cruising at almost 28,000 Kph – it went by fast and left this big light streak across my photo.

7 places to see

New article today by Forbes India – 7 places to see before they disappear

I’m enroute back to Canada right now after visiting TurTuk a couple of weeks ago … The blurb makes it out to be a bit more touristy than it is – we obtained frontier permits and went right up to the Pakistan border … there were no tourists queuing up for anything. And where the hell were the hot springs … we had local fixers and guides and no ‘tato pani’ was offered up.

Turtuk, Ladakh
This border village in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh once fell within Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Although India reclaimed it after the 1971 war, the government imposed the Protected Area Permit Regime in the area, making it off-limits for foreigners. This, however, ensured that the region’s stark beauty remain untouched. Towards the end of 2009 the government lifted its restrictions. Foreign tourists have, since then, been queuing up for Bactrian camel rides and hot water springs. There goes the neighbourhood.


It all started out fine enough … The afternoon Cathay flight to Hong Kong. The flight was full, and the plane doors had Cattle Class streaming through Business Class which did interrupt the flow of Champagne a bit. But despite that inconvenience – the ladies managed to keep the welcome drinks flowing. Followed shortly there after by the first inflight meal service … The food was tasty, and topped off with mango cheesecake. Mango! They did wake us up 6 hours later to feed us again – I’m guessing they go by the Hong Kong time zone for these matters … it was like 2 in the morning. Whatever … Rack of Lamb it was.

13 hours later, an hour and a half transfer – barely time to pound back a couple of rum and cokes in the lounge, and we were off on CX695 to Delhi. This flight was bursting at the seams – no upgrades to the front of the plane were available – the best I could manage was an emergency exit isle – which someone wanted to swap me for a middle seat so they could sit by their sister … As if I said. 6 feet of leg room vs 18 inches. Right. All was good, and along came the food … it was so bad, I resorted to using the condiment of ‘mixed pickle’ to try and liven it up.

That … is some sort of chicken dish. horrible. tasteless. I was hungry and ate the chicken with super spicy Indian pickle added on. I obviously survived to tell this tale … 5 or 6 hours we arrived in Delhi … around midnight, to a stifling +35 degrees. An hour cab to the hotel … some sleep, and back on the street today – it’s +40 out there right now … here’s a scene from around the corner from my favorite cellular SIM card provider …

As I’ve been up since 5 am … it’s nap time before I head back out for some more shopping followed up by an ice cold Kingfisher and some Tandori chicken at the Metropolis.


This is pretty creative … Seat Assignment: Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style

“While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight.”

Nina Katchadourian

Glossy Donut

Here’s a surprise treat I got today! Delivered fresh from the Big Island … Thanks Johnny B!