Before I even tried to pronounce where I was going, the young Tuk Tuk driver looked at my map and quoted the price. It seemed excessive for a 10-minute ride outside of Old Town, but he wouldn't budge.
Located one kilometre west of Chiang Mai's old city, Wat Suan Dok was built during Lanna rule. And part of its importance derives from housing one-half of a Buddha relic on its chedi. The complex houses the usual religious buildings — Chedi, prayer hall and inner shrine — as well has the royal cemetery, a Buddhist University and a vegetarian restaurant.
As I entered the renovated main building, a 4m gold Buddha, that almost reached the ceiling, stood in front of me. The hall's profuse decoration irradiated from the consecutive pillars, extending to the beams and ceiling. And whenever the light caught the stained glass fragments on the pillars, a kaleidoscopic effect danced through the hall giving it an outer-worldly atmosphere.
But, it was the sea of white memorial chedi, housing the ashes of the Thai royal family, that impressed the most. As the sun shone through the immaculate bell-shaped structures, the central golden chedi rose dramatically above the cemetery, like a mother looking after her children. With the misty Doi Suthep soaring in the distance, I could only imagine how magical it is to watch the sunset at Wat Suan Dok.