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Published: March 15th 2009
We started our trek in Chiang Rai Province by mountain bike, and pedaled from Chiang Rai City to a Karen village where we caught an elephant ride, stopping at some cave temples and picturesque cliff sides on the way. Unfortunately, the farmers in the area were burning their crops for the upcoming wet season and there was an incredible haze of smog for the entirety of our stay, taking away from our views, but bringing the temperatures down a bit from boiling to bearable. We visited the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar for some good eats and cheap treats and checked out a hippie bar in town to finish off a good first day of our guided tour.
For the next three days our main mode of transport became motor scooter, which is also the method of choice for the majority of the population here. Traffic was pretty intense and the smog was thick, so Betty opted to ride in the comfort of the van with the rest of the ladies on our tour while the men mounted our hogs and took to the streets. We arrived at our river side resort early and took kayaks to a Lahu village downstream
The gang ready to roll.
and hiked through rice fields and forest back to our bamboo bungalows. The next day we rode a fun street with hairpin turns up and down steep inclines to arrive in Doi Mae Salong, a Chinese-settled village, where we tried Thailand’s premier Oolong tea. We hiked through their terraced tea and rice plantations, which are the primary crops here replacing opium. Next we scooted on to Doi Tung Royal Gardens, a beautiful site dedicated to the late King’s Mother, who successfully eradicated opium as the main cash crop of northern Thailand and started many programs to reduce the use of it and other drugs. We finished our ride by tip-toeing the Thai / Myanmar (Burma) border to the heart of the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. This was our last night with our group from this tour so we made sure to soak it with Sang Som, the Thai whiskey that is really rum. The next day was a visit to the Hall of Opium (sorry, no free samples) and after an epic lunch, dispersed the group out to our different destinations. We loaded into our private van for a long drive to Chiang Mai and are
settled into our super sweet hotel in the center of the city.
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