Long and windy roads Part 1
Today we were up early and off to the exec lounge at 730 for a quick breakfast before being picked up at 8am by Mr Joy’s brother Sunny. We had hoped to see Mr Joy again but he had mentioned the day before that he might not be able to make it as he had a meeting with his son’s school that he was trying to reschedule.
We were heading to Chiang Rai and Mae Sen (The Golden Triangle) with stops along the way at one of the hot springs, Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple) and Wat Cheddi Luang.
It was a long and stomach turning trip for Colli as she doesn’t travel well at the best of times but the long winding mountainous road was testing her limits and she was desperately fighting not to toss her cookies all over Sunny and his Mid 90’s Toyota Corona with Mag wheels that were far too big for the car and would scrape the guards every time you hit a bump in the road. One hour later we reached our first stop at the Hot spring, it was a bit
of a non event for us as with so many other things around the world they have taken what could have been a fantastic natural tourist attraction and surrounded it with shops and markets making it into an over commercialised eye sore.
I do not blame the locals for this, instead I place the blame fair and square on the enormous quantities of tourists taken to these areas that are too caught up in their own little world and keep supplying these people with money which encourages the locals to think this is what all tourists want.
Back into the car for another 2 hours and a very scenic drive through some very scenic rice paddy fields to Wat Rong Khun and our next stop on the list, we had heard about this temple from the owner of our favourite Thai restaurant back home in Canberra (Thai House in Weston for anyone who was wondering) as well as on a few online forums.
Better known to most people as The White Temple it was only built in the 90’s so is quite new. Built nearby the existing monastery it was commissioned by a local to honour His Majesty
the King of Thailand. It is truly spectacular even though being off season they had closed parts of it for restoration and maintenance so we were unable to observe all aspects of it. The mural that adorns the back wall is remarkable and contains modern references to movies such as Avatar, The Matrix and Star Wars just to name a few, intertwined with the teachings of Buddha.
A brief stop at Wat Cheddi Luang in Chiang Rai town was next on the agenda before making our way to Mae Sen otherwise known as the Golden Triangle. (In) Famous for Opium it is the geographic location for the intersection of the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand.
We had lunch at a restaurant right on the Mae Khong river with a view straight across to Laos. Here we had some of the best food we have ever had since we first started coming to Thailand and it was very reasonably priced too.
There are a variety of things you can do in this area like pretty much everywhere you go in Thailand. Check out the Opium museum if you are interested in the history surrounding the area. Be prepared
to part with some money for the privilege though. I would steer clear of most of the other tourist enterprises (Scams?) and look for a more genuine local experience instead.
On the very long drive back we stopped at an Akha hill tribe village which although they had a few stalls and some new modern constructions going up it was still no where near as commercialised as the majority of villages where most tour companies take people. Whilst we were there Sunny informed us that as a traditional tribe a lot of the dogs we met would not be there next time as the tribe prefers to eat dog over any other form of meat and will even trade chickens and pigs for dogs with other villages in the area.
Next stop was the Cashew nut farm and factory to buy some tasty cashew nut mixtures and some dried fruit before continuing on the rest of the long drive back to Chiang Mai. It is around four hours one way from Chiang Mai to the Golden Triangle so I would suggest if time and money permit stay at least one night in Chiang Rai.
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