A Bamboo Nest and a Border Town....
Trip Start Jun 13, 2011
57Trip End Jun 12, 2012
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Where I stayed
Although it was a shame to skip straight through Chiang Rai, which I’m sure is lovely, we’d seen so many temples and enjoyed the bars and restaurants of Chiang Mai, so we felt it was time for us to get away from it all - and Bamboo Nest delivered that in spades!
The one(ish) hour ride to get there was so scenic and very rustic - the further we got away from town the crazier the roads became, and the last leg through the nearest village involved almost vertical ascents - and although the car looked like it’d seen better days, Nok drove like a pro
There are only 5 bungalows and the eating area, all crafted by Noi, Nok’s husband, from local, sustainable materials, set on the hill side, with nothing but the surrounding mountains and fields as far as the eye can see - you have the whole valley to yourself (and the other guests, of course!). The setting really blew us away, and as soon as you arrive you just instantly relax. The bungalows themselves were HUGE and really nicely (but simply) done, all set quite far apart from each other and with big balconies and floor to ceiling windows so you can take full advantage of the view.
The food was also outstanding - not the cheapest, but still very good value and fantastic quality. I just let Nok rustle up anything she wanted to cook for me (as long as it was veggie, had some tofu and was spicy) and was always impressed, and Barry loved their special BBQ fish (some Japanese type) with bamboo sticky rice, as well as the green curry (natch) and the Chiang Mai spicy sausage. My only complaint would be on the water situation - they didn’t have drinking water, and only sold small bottles, which is tough going as we both like to drink a lot, but I really have a problem throwing away that much plastic - we normally keep our water bottles for weeks, just refilling them - but only a small thing I suppose
We knew before we arrived that there would be no electricity, but that was part of the appeal for us - really back to basics! But what surprised us was that they did have solar power, which meant that we could have light in the evening and also hot showers - although the water was almost too hot! And we were really lucky with our timing, as the nearest village was celebrating Chinese New Year. Their celebrations started at dark and went on through the night, and although we couldn’t see them it was magical just sitting on our balcony in the evening listening to their melodic music, accompanied by the sounds of the frogs and crickets. We loved it and found it so relaxing to just drift off to sleep with the sounds in the background, but we found it funny that the other couples that were staying found it annoying and couldn’t sleep because of it - different strokes and all that!
Obviously there was loads of nice walking to be done in the area, plus a national park and elephant camp, but our ‘treat’ was a visit to the hot springs. We were really impressed with the set up - it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but you can hire a private room for only 80bt, which is all done out in lovely stone work - just the way to really unwind after the busy last few weeks
We only had 4 nights there, and although we could’ve stayed for longer we were totally chilled - plus our next stop was a mere 2 and a half hour drive away, so it wasn’t like we had any long, stressful journeys ahead of us. We got an early lift back into Chiang Rai and had our breakfast at one of the lovely cafes near the bus station, then jumped on a local bus (65bt) to Chiang Khong.
Chiang Khong is a small town on the border with Laos, and although there’s not much in the way of major tourist attractions, it’s a pleasant enough place to spend a couple of days before crossing the border. The Mekong divides the 2 countries, and the town is built along it’s banks. Our guesthouse, Baanrimtaling Homestay, was a little out of town but with a gorgeous riverside setting (and it really is such a small place that out of town means 5 minutes walk!), and at only 200bt for a double room it was great value. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t brilliant, but we found a few nice places to eat in town, including the fantastic Bamboo Café, where they bake their own amazing multigrain bread and have delicious homemade tomato soup - sometimes it’s the simple things in life
The markets were pretty good, and I managed to get a new pair of flipflops for 45bt (under a pound) - the last ones cost £40, but they did last me 8 months, so we’ll see how long these ones do! There are also some surprisingly nice temples to see. There was another festival on while we were there (something to do with renovating a temple?), and the whole town was out to celebrate - these small town parties can be mental - they were all out drinking, dancing and doing karaoke from the morning onwards!
We enjoyed our last meal in Thailand at Rim Restaurant - just a little place but excellent food and really cheap. Barry had his last green curry and I had paad thai - predictable I know, but there’s a reason they are the national dishes! After nearly 2 months of living on Thai food, we’ve really got into it - I don’t know how we’ll cope without it! In fact the same could be said for the country in general - it has been amazing to be able to spend such a long time in one country, getting to really know the food, the people, the culture…..but Laos is only over the river, and although I’m sure it will be very different in a lot of ways, if it’s even half as nice as Thailand we’ll be happy!