Just when we thought we had forgotten about the UK we arrived off the bus in Chiang Rai and across the street was a Boots and a Tescos!!
Although to be fair they were made to rebrand as ‘Tesco Lotus’.
Our Guesthouse, Grandma Kaew, was run by a Thai lady and her husband, who came from Dagenham and I must say it was ‘pucker’! The room was spotless, had a fridge and was more like a little studio apartment than room.
Armed with maps and camera we headed out to explore the city
Chiang Rai is a small city, with most of its activity surrounding the night market. We went searching for the famous White Temple and after 2 hours of fruitless search we realised that it was out if town. At least we managed to explore a good chunk of the city and take in sights like Wat Phra Kaew (discovery site if the Emerald Buddha) and the impressive Clock Tower.
Karen finally flagged down a TukTuk and he took us to the White Temple.(Read about it here).
Returning from the Temple we jumped off and did some shopping. Not fancy shopping Helen Rose, but stuff for breakfast and to re-stock on medicines. As we were walking home the heavens opened and we had to leg it back the last 200 metres. We were greeted by Grandma Kaew who was performing stretched on the porch and she laughed at us for getting caught in the rain.
That first evening we headed out to the Night Market. John needed a new cap as the TukTuk to the White Temple drive so fast that his last cap flew off and under the wheels of the car behind! After that we got dinner. There are two sections, a fancy overpriced one with wooden decorations and live music for the Farangs, or the local section with live football on TV (ChiangRai United match) and great cheap food. We chose the latter and had a great time.
Walking around the market we noticed a lot of stalls being packed away in a hurry – uh oh not again. Asia does Superstorms very well and as we took shelter under some stalls for an hour we were treated to a real belter!
The next day we went to the Hilltribe Museum. Run by a Non-profit organisation this was a great place to learn more about the regions ethnic minorities, their culture as well as their struggles. We had read that their Village Tours were the best so we booked one for that afternoon.
This was last minute as the Museum would be closed the day after for Buddha’s Birthday holiday. We would later find out that we were maybe better off without the tour they offered. Read about it here.
With all the sights seen and all the streets walked we went back to the Night Market that evening. It was much busier due to the impending holiday so we had more choices of stalls to eat from. Live Football was replaced with live music and traditional dances.
We stopped by the bus station to pre-book our bus tickets the next day to he told ‘no need to book’ by a grumpy ticket agent,
The next morning we woke up and after breakfast made our way to the bus station to find out that all the buses were full until 1pm and why had we not booked the day before?, was the condescending question at the ticket office. We had to wait 2 hours in a coffee shop for the next bus.