So where did I leave off? Oh yes, The Lost Hut bar in Chiang Mai. We had a fantastic evening with some expats, locals and travelers. With easy flowing conversations and drinks. We had to wake up early the next morning to catch our bus to Chiang Rai. If you thought I didn’t have a great time on the sleeper train , the bus ride was a whole new type of torture. Only this time it was !00% my own fault… (sorta, I blame the New Zelander that insisted on that last shot that knocked me on my butt)
The bus itself was new, nice and comfy. The roads where winding and the rest stop bathrooms were… well lets just say I couldn’t muster the courage to even get sick in them, and boy did I want to! By the end of the ride (about 4 hours) Wade and I felt much better and we needed food. After amazing street side Chinese soup and we were on our way to our hotel. The focus of this end of the trip was for us to relax and for me to finally get to photograph the amazing countryside and endless hills of Thailand.
Of all the places we went this trip, Chiang Rai spoke to me the most. Meeting people, experiencing different cultures and eating new food is all great; but for me, standing in front of earth’s amazing scenery just makes my heart happy. The easy pace of Chiang Rai along with all the things I loved from Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya ( good food, night markets and kind people) made Chiang Rai a place I can see myself missing from the moment we arrived.
We rented a car to be on our own time. Driving in Chiang Rai is a lot less daunting than other, busier areas in the country. We got lost in the hills and rice paddies. We were aiming to go to the Phu Chi Fa viewpoint but the cloud cover made it impossible to see anything at the top. That didn’t stop us!! Up and up we went, stopping every chance we could for us to admire the views. Though the cloud cover ruined the view from the top I love the added drama it gave to our views and my photos. Roaming the area was a great time. We found so many hidden gems, including Wat and prayer sites completely decked out in gold. It was fascinating to see the effort put into their prayer sites, while their own homes deteriorate or lack things we consider necessities. After a long day of driving, we hit up the street vendors and night market.
I mean look at that view!!!
The only site seeing we cared to do in Chiang Rai was the White Wat. Wat Rong Khun. Wat Rong Khun is a modern Wat made by Artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat. It was started in 1997 and Chalermchai is still working on it. He was actually painting inside the day we were able to visit. We were unable to take photos inside, which is such a bummer because this place is just NUTS! All white on the outside and gold on the inside with pop culture images of hello kitty, Yoda, and even Neo from the matrix just for starters. The “evil” of the modern world slowly develops into the golden sky with monks floating on boats and clouds towards a glistening gold sky and Buddha. It was really something and my words can’t describe the inricicity this room had. When you stood back the images came together to form a Komainu (Shishi dog face)!! I They use shishi inside Buddhist temples, who knew. Irises made of guns and faces. The mouth formed from a futuristic space scene and showed 911 imagery. It was spectacular!! The outside was covered with sculptures that Wade and I turned into a game of “look at this”. Limbs, dragons, the predator and penises were among the thousands of oddities to find. I’ll let the pictures do the talking here.
ok I lied, Wade snuck some photos with his phone. But shhh..
The next stop was the Singha resort, for some beer and awesome mountain and tea farm views for lunch. We found this place by accident but it was hard to miss the large golden Singha lion from the road.
Our last day was spent poolside enjoying the views and mist over the mountains. Overall Thailand is a country that has been on my list for a few years. I am thankful that we were able to move to this side of the world, making it easy for us to be able to break the country up and focus on different parts rather than rushing through. I will admit that I didn’t fall in love with it the way I have with other places. (Hi Greece, I miss you! ) The people, the food and juxtaposition of glittery golds wats with rusting sheet metal homes made Thailand an interesting travel destination. It had its charm for sure and I’m still very excited to go back and see the southern half. Until next time Thailand… back to island life.