Last weekend I escaped the International House school grounds and ventured north into the city of Chiang Mai. IH is about ten kilometers south, so I walked to the nearest main road and found a little yellow truck acting as a taxi. For the very reasonable sum of 10baht ($0.35) it took me all the way into the city.

Chiang Mai’s old town is set in the middle of a moat, and lined with narrow streets harboring cafes and restaurants. It’s very touristy these days, with many businesses advertising as much in Chinese as in English, due to the high number of visitors from the Middle Kingdom.

I walked to the western edge of the old town, where I found Wat Phra Singh (The Lion Buddha Temple). Although the Lonely Planet and other guides say there’s an entrance fee of around 20baht, there was no charge when I visited, and scores of tourists milled about freely.

Wat Phra Singh is the premiere temple of Chiang Mai and it really is a beautiful place to spend an hour wandering about, admiring the ancient stone work and perfectly manicured gardens.