Forging a New Path

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
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Trip End May 30, 2013


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Where I stayed
Riverside Guest House Lampang
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
wat pong sanook

Flag of Thailand  ,
Friday, December 21, 2012

Trying to get off the tourist trail that goes from Luang Prabang, slow boat to the Thai border and straight to Chiang Mai. I'm worried that Chiang Mai will be a repeat of Luang Prabang, so I decided we should first go to Chiang Rai.  I liked getting off the motor bike to get on the Chiang Rai bus at the bus station that wasn't a bus station, but a market with a bus parked in it. The only 2 farangs on the bus. I thought: 'wow, we're finally doing it – travelling like the Thai people without giant VIP buses and giant VIP prices'. However, when we kept going through checkpoints where police got on the bus to inspect people and check through bags I had 2nd thoughts. Still, we managed to get to Chiang Rai paying the prices listed in Lonely Planet, so I was feelt good. Met at the bus station by only one man asking us if he could drive us to our guest house. He didn't even drive a tuk-tuk, but instead peddled a cart. Obviously not built for big farang butts. The two of us couldn't even sit side by side. No matter how we tried, our hips would not fit. I ended up doing this strange contortionist twist to have one butt cheek on the seat and the other jammed against Brian's belt.  Thankfully, we didn't have far to go and arrived at a little garden oasis of eclectic and artistic rooms around a garden. Very laid back!  Forget about Lao-speed, this is Thai-speed. So laid back that the owners disappeared and we had to hunt them down the next morning to pay!

Chiang Rai was refreshingly non-touristy. A nice small area that's easy to navigate on foot. A few tour agencies advertising trekking, but nothing else. We decided NOT to do one of these, although I'd have loved to get into the mountains.  They all seemed to focus on visiting different hill-tribes. The last thing we wanted was to walk-through villages and snap photos of the giraffe ladies type experience. Brian has visions of people on computers in the back room quickly throwing on a headdress when a bus pulls up and running out to pound things in a mortar and pestle or sift some rice to earn money from photographs. So instead, we took a walk through some everyday markets full of colourful crabs, eels. bras, running shoes, incense and decorations. Nothing remotely resembling a souvenir.

The night market was another treat. Many different products and some unique works of arts made for an interesting wander. Looking for something to eat we stumbled upon a large kind-of food court filled with 100's a tables surrounded by restaurants each offering only a slight variation of the others: hot pot, fried things, and bugs! There was also a bar that offered a huge drafts of beer of about 5 litres with their own spigot that you could bring to your table! While we were dining, a stage in front of us lit up with a ladyboy show – what more could you ask for in an evening???

The next day we took another NON-tourist, NON-VIP bus to Lampang. For the price and twice the time we finally made it to the town at about 4pm. I guess the novelty is waning.

Lampang is a cute little town full of old Thai-style teak houses along the water sprinkled with wats. We managed to walk to one of the UNESCO heritage ones: Wat Pong Sanook – our first wat that we've actually sought out to see. Brian wouldn't even go in, and I have to say I don't quite understand it al. I don't think even one of my children's art classes could top the glitter and sparkle...and how many Buddha's do you actually need?

But our guest house was beautiful. An old teak house filled with gardens, lights and koi swimming in rivers at our feet. I even had a sneaky wee glass of wine – again! Well, it was the eve of the end of the world...a girl can indulge, right?




My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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