Chiang Rai

Pre-warning for this blog, it probably won’t be the most interesting one of the trip, but I guess even when every day is unreal there must be some slower days in amongst it.

We caught the bus bright an early from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and made the 4-hour journey closer to the Laos border. The bus ride wasn’t too bad, even if we made it a day later than we originally planned. However, we were right at the back of the bus and here the window didn’t half rattle really loud which was rather annoying and meant I found it a little hard to take a nap, so instead I caught up with some TV shows on Netflix for the ride (cheers Jack for allowing me to use yours still haha). Once we arrived in Chiang Rai we made the short 10-minute walk to the hostel which was very nice and probably one of the best hostels we have stayed in so far on the trip, shame it was only for two nights. The rooms were nice, I had the best shower of the trip here and additionally, there was a gym and a swimming pool, although both were equally a little disappointing but nice none the less. After dropping our stuff off at the hostel we headed out into town to get a bite to eat. Here we stumbled across a nice Chinese place and had the BBQ / crispy pork and rice. The dish was massive which made a nice change to the normal portion size we’ve been getting in Thailand and it was so tasty. Once again it cost a little over £1. After we had satisfied our hunger we then hunted out finding a tour operator to take us from Chiang Rai into Laos and onto Luang Prabang via the slow boat. We saw the standard price for this was 1650 baht around £38, which still isn’t bad for a 2-day trip. However, we were determined to haggle. After visiting around 3 different tour operators, all of whom wouldn’t budge on a price 1600-baht price, we finally stumbled across someone who eventually agreed to a price of 1550 baht, apparently, we got this deal here as all the tour operators report to her (who knows if that’s true or not). Still, 1550 Baht compared to 160o is a massive saving of £1! Although the 50-baht saving allowed me to eat my final evening meal in Thailand as I was determined to use all my remaining Baht and not take any more out so every little helps as they say.

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Once we had booked the tour to depart from Chiang Rai on the 30th of November we headed back to the hostel to chill out. Here we laid around the pool and then used the hostel gym (if you could call it that) for a little work out. That evening we headed out to explore the city a little. We first headed for a bite to eat before exploring the night market which also contained a food area. After this we made our way to “Big Ben” of Chiang Rai, word of warning its nothing like Big Ben but it is the main clock for the city. Oddly enough it is positioned in the centre of a roundabout. On the hour mark at 7, 8 and 9 pm the clock chimes and then performs a little light show. By no means is it a spectacular event but well worth a little look and is a nice way to spend 10 minutes of your evening watching the clock. After this, we took the long route back to the hostel to have an early night. I did warn you we didn’t get up to too much in Chiang Rai (it was more a stop over to get to the Laos border), we also deliberately were conservative as we wanted to use our remaining baht (which wasn’t a lot) to survive our remaining time in Thailand without drawing out more cash, as each time incurs a £5 fee from the ATM, once again when travelling on a budget, every little helps.

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The following day after a much-needed lie in, we finally left the hostel for food around midday, before making our way to the “White Temple” officially known as Wat Rong Khun. The temple is about a 20-minute ride south of the city and as the name suggest is a big white temple, the style of which is a little different to any of the other temples we have seen I Thailand. To access the main temple itself was 50 Baht, I’m sure you can already guess we, therefore, didn’t pay this, however, you can see the temple in all its glory for slightly further away for free. Additionally, the rest of the temple area was free to walk around which is what we did. Furthermore, there was some scaffolding on the main temple itself which furthered reinforced we weren’t that bothered about seeing it up close. After exploring the temple area for a while we headed back to the hostel once more. The thing with all these temples is that they are cool to look at for a little while but in the end, there isn’t really that much to do there other than wandering around.

Once back at the hostel we chilled again by the pool and had another workout in the hostel “gym”. That evening we headed for the night market street food area for dinner. Here me and Ollie ordered a Hot Pot, which consisted of a boiling hot broth over coals where you cook all your meat and vegetables in before consuming. The meal was nice but if I’m honest rather a bit of a faff and it probably took me around 40 minutes to eat the meal, which when hungry isn’t ideal. Connor had a very spicy seafood dish which he said is the spiciest thing he has ever eaten in his life and had to order two coconut milkshakes to cool his mouth down. (Good luck with that on the way out Con). Fred, on the other hand, ate most of the food court out of house and home consuming several different dishes haha. Once again, we retired back to the hostel for an early night ready to wake up at 5.30am to catch our transfer to move from Thailand into Laos.

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More about the slow boat experience in the next blog. Thailand, however, has been an excellent host to us for the past 3 weeks and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time here. The people, the scenery and the food has been amazing, and we are looking forward to coming back in a few months to explore all that south Thailand and the islands have to offer. Until then ขอบคุณครับ (khob khun krab) Thailand and see you soon.

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