It was sheer fun to ride across the hilly North of Thailand after I left the Golden Triangle. Really wished I had allocated a bit more time up here than just this one week. Before Thailand I hadn’t been riding a scooter since I criss-crossed Zansibar after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro more than 10y ago. The windy roads, scenic views and picturesque temples are really fun (though I have hit my limits when it comes to temples … same stuff that you get with churches when you travel Italy or Spain). I was also lucky with the weather, as it didn’t rain once.
Doi Tung: It was really more the way there that I enjoyed. The temple was average and, unfortunately, I was too late to visit the Doi Tung royal villa and its gardens. Accommodation options turned out pretty lights in the hills (well going by booking.com) and so I headed to Mae Chan for the evening with its night market (where I am still not sure if I had mat balls in my beef soup or bull testicles for dinner). Similar to Chiang Saen, i was one of the very few tourists in town and enjoyed a few beers with live music to round off a great day out.
Doi Salong: Doi Salong was only an hours ride away. Scenery galore again. However, first I needed to make my Skype appointment with Daria for my weekly Russian session. This grammar stuff still bugs me. But such is life. We actually spent a fair bit talking English as I reported my insights from the ‘hall of opium’. Highlight in this pretty mountain village are the hill top temples, of which I saw a few. Great views included!
Chiang Rai: By nightfall I was already in Chiang Rai. Very laid back place I have to say. I was pretty hungry and made my way to the night market. In this region it was popular to make your own soup. You order a base soup (normal or spicy) and vegetable as well meat/seafood ingredients. Put all into the pot and wait 5min while watching some Thai dancing on the stage. Great atmosphere here and alto there were significantly more tourists than the last few days, it was nowhere the commercial, beach tourist type atmosphere of South Thailand. People were friendly.
On my way home i watched some Thaiboxing with locals in a hotel lobby before I spent a good part of the evening talking to Kristina and Stefan in a pretty awesome reggae bar. Kristina moved to Chiang Rai from Berlin, studies Thai and aims to work here as English teacher. Stefan from Dortmund used to work in IT and now travels already for 11 month. He isn’t tired just yet. Awesome evening.
The next morning I dedicated to so e sightseeing. Chiang Rai offers three main attractions other than its tranquility and the night market – a white temple, a blue temple and a black house.
- Black House: The latter is the 50y+ work of local artist Thawan Duchanee. He is a painter and sculpturer that created this folk park (some 40 houses, loads of collected items like animal bones, skins etc) to preserve history and as a source of inspiration for his own work.
- White temple (Wat Rong Khun): Again, created by an artist (Chalermchai Kositpipat) who mostly funded it with his own money. At 40m THB (about 1m EUR in todays terms) a good effort though still work in progress with wikipedia saying that it might not be finished before 2070!
- Blue temple: Created by locals and also still being constructed. Similar to white temple, a welcome difference to the typical temple appearance.
Well, must be off. 300km+ to Pai are waiting.