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Published: October 17th 2011
Chiang Rai – Some unexpected delights on the way to Laos.
I have to confess here I hadn’t read too much about Chiang Rai and I didn’t know what to expect apart from the lonely planet advised that it was a bit of a transit hub with not a great deal to do. When I was explaining my route to Maam and my thoughts about Chiang Rai she suggested I give it a look because it was quite interesting and some of the places and sights along the way were well worth going to. Who am I to question valuable local knowledge so I went with Maam’s suggestions and I’m very pleased I did.
The only way I could get to see everything in the time I had available was to go as part of an organised tour, as mentioned before in previous blogs I’m not a big fan of group tours but this was only going to be for one day and it would enable me to see everything I wanted, so Ifound a tour company and signed up!
We set off from Chiang Mai very early and headed towards the first stop which was a natural
hot spring, this wasn’t on my wish list of things to see or do but was a part of the tour. It was possibly one of the most uninteresting things I’ve seen for a long while and the way they had built a tourist style bus park around it just seemed ridiculous. Having said this the photo I took whilst sat bored in a café waiting for the rest of the tour group actually makes it look ok. Sometimes the camera does lie!
From here we headed to Wat Rong Khun or as it’s known to the tourists “White Temple.” As you will see from the pictures there is definitely a clue in the title here. I know this looks a bit surreal when you compare it to the more traditional Wat’s but it was absolutely beautiful and the level of detail on every aspect of the building was quite something. I guess this one stands out for me because it’s something a bit different from the other temple’s I’ve seen to date. I don’t make a habit of taking photos of toilets but the golden temple like toilets are possibly the most elaborate I have seen to date
during my travelling so it would be rude not to pay recognition to this.
Once we had finished at Wat Rong Khun we headed to the “Golden Triangle” this is the point on the Mekong river where Thai, Laos and Myanmar intersect. Because I was on the cheap tour I didn’t go on the river cruise which enabled you to cross over into all three countries. The reason I decided to give this a miss was because my next destination would be Laos where I would spend 2 days on a boat so it seemed a bit pointless to do this one. Whilst the rest of my group did the boat tour I checked out the local area and came across a golden Buddha on a boat and also chatted to a local café owner for about an hour. He was giving me the lowdown on the area and asking me about my trip. It was a fascinating time made all the more bizarre because there seemed to be a high number of very friendly lizards that sat about 10cm’s away from us the whole time. I was continually keeping one eye on them whilst trying to concentrate on
The gate of the Hill Tirbe Village
It was meant to keep evil spirits away??
the conversation which was not easy. Another example of the fact I’m not the most confident with nature and wildlife unless it’s behind a glass enclosure….
Once the group was back together again we headed to the Myanmar border for a walk round before are last destination, a hill tribe village just outside Chiang Rai called the Akha Hill Tribe. This particular Hill Tribe are renowned for their long necks. Although sadly the village people with the long necks were all located across a foot bridge which they wanted a lot of money for you to cross and see them to take photos. So I made do with the photos from the other side of the bridge. As with a lot of areas and tourist sights in Asia everything seems to be an extra, I know the sums of money involved are not vast but sometimes you just get sick of thinking you have paid for a trip or tour and then they throw nonstop extra’s at you and I guess today was a day where I decided to say no for a change.
My final stop on the tour was Chiang Rai, this is the point where
I left the group who were all heading back to Chiang Mai. The actual city of Chiang Rai was somewhere I would be spending just one night before a quick bit of sight-seeing in the morning before I got the bus to Chiang Khong to cross the border into Laos.
I was not expecting anything more than a boring bus ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai but thanks to Maam’s input and a quick change of plans I got to see some amazing cultural sights and had a brilliant time getting to the border of Laos. It’s funny how things just sometimes work out : )
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