I’ve not heard a lot of positive things about Chiang Rai. Most of the people I’ve spoken to were like “meh, It’s just another city. You’ll get bored after a day”. But I wanted to see for myself and I am glad I did. The city is nothing extraordinary but not worth dissing either. There are enough restaurants and cafes and markets to keep you entertained for a few days. In fact I met a guy who got bitten by a dog and had been in Chiang Rai for more than 2 weeks and he said he was quiet enjoying it there.
On the first day Ben (who I met in Pai and who was still limping after his fall from the bike) and I just chilled in the hostel and ate in the night bazaar.
The second day we rented a bike and went to the white temple (which I was really looking forward to) and to the Khun Korn waterfall (that I was going to only coz we had the bike for the whole day and we didn’t know what else to do). The temple, in my opinion, was “meh”. I’ve not met anyone who agrees with my opinion but hey, it’s just my opinion.
Yes the structure is beautiful but its right next to a busy road and is surrounded by parked buses, bikes, cafes and shops so there was no atmosphere at all. And the temple has a lot of oddities like skulls hanging from the surrounding trees or hundreds of hands rising from a pond giving the illusion of people drowning. I mean, what’s with that. It’s a temple and not a dungeon! So anyways, I wasn’t sold one bit.
The waterfall, on the other hand, was “wow”! It was 70mts high and the fall formed a pool at the bottom in which I would have loved to swim (if I could). We walked 1mile in the national park to get to the waterfall and by the end of the walk we were dripping in sweat but it was absolutely worth it!
We wanted to end that day with a sunset over the Singha park (as recommended by our hostel) but it being the monsoon season it was so cloudy that we could see no sun so we ended up enjoying some delicious tea harvested right from the plantations around the park.
One of the highlights of my Thailand trip would come the next day. A 163km bike ride (my longest so far) to the Mae Salong village situated on Doi Mae Salong (Doi means mountain) close to the Thailand Myanmar border. The first 30kms of the ride was just highways so nothing special but then the climb started and the scenery changed drastically.
A lot of the times we were actually riding in the clouds and it was so chilly that I had to wear my sweater and was very tempted to put on my scarf as well. Mae Salong is a very Chinese influenced town. The houses, the music and even the food makes you feel you’ve left Thailand and entered China.
We ate some absolutely delicious Yunnan style curry with fresh egg noodles.
It was one hell of a ride! On the downside, I don’t think my ass has every hurt that much and the 4hr bus ride back to Chiang Mai the next day didn’t help one bit.