After three nights in Chiang Mai we jumped on a bus to Chiang Rai. ..on the way we ate Chiang pie and Shmacy had a good a Chiang cry while I got bit by a Chiang fly.
Okay, the last three Chiang’s are false.
Anyhow, Shmacy and Shmooke have a friend, Shmalan, living in Chiang Rai, so we decided to make our way up to hang with him. The bus ride up was very comfortable.. thank you Northern Thailand for having a comfortable bus system. They even stopped half way through our 4 hour bus ride for a bathroom break. Oh yeah, this is another story that I’ve only lightly touched on… toilets in Asia.
In China, we’ve got the squatter with automatic flushing (if you’re lucky). In Thailand (unless your in a super touristy area) there’s a different version of the squatter. The Squatter 2.0 if you will… or perhaps the Squatter 0.2 depending on your preference of …’situations’. In Thailand the squatters are raised about a foot off of the ground so you’re elevated when you do your buisnass. Also, there’s usually a bucket of water next to the squatter with a plastic bowl half submerged in the water. ‘What do I do with this?’ you will ask yourself. Welp, this is your manual flushing system. Use the bowl to scoop water and then pour the water into the squatter until your ‘buisnass’ disappears. It’s one of the prouder moments you will have in your life.
Anyhow, back to the story..
We arrive in Chiang Rai, settle into our hostel, meet up with Shmalan and head to the Night Bazaar for dinner. Every major city in southeast Asia (at the the ones I’ve been to) have a Night Bazaar. Pretty cool. You can shop for locally crafted souvenirs (I’m choosing to believe they’re locally crafted), eat local food, watch cultural dancing, and socialize with… mostly tourists, but some locals as well. It’s a good time. Also, this is where I had the best Pad Thai yet! The noodles were wrapped in an omelet and you can choose which and how many toppings you want on it. I put some salt and pepper, crushed peanuts, and a lot of bean sprouts on it. Soooo good.
The next day we headed to the Wat Rong Khun.. the White Temple. The architecture of this modern temple is very interesting. It is all white with pieces of mirrors on the edges and points. It is very detailed. The painting inside the temple is different from anything I’ve ever seen within a temple or place of worship. On the wall farthest from the Buddha is a giant mural with 20 or so small pop fiction characters painted in different areas. It’s my understanding that the farther away from the Buddha you are, the more you are living in a sort of fake, societal based world. As you get closer to the Buddha, the paintings on the walls suggested you are going the right way, towards enlightenment. However, that is all perception, and could be completely inaccurate. It was very interesting to see something so current and societal-based displayed in a temple.
This is the designer, Chalermchai Kositpipat.
After the temple we went to grab a bite to eat. Shmalan was such a good host. Since he lives in Chiang Rai he knew all the good places to eat and all the good sights to see. Shout out to Shmalan… You rock, dude! Thanks for showing us girls around.
Anyhow, we ate some delicious local Thai dishes for lunch.. one of my favorites was the coconut curry soup. Coconut milk, noodles, veggies, chicken, spices, and some herbs made this dish exquisite.
Next stop was a traditional Thai massage. Yeah, boi!… I had been waiting for one of these. Full body 60 minute massage for only 140 baht! That’s like $5. I love southeast Asia at times like these. The massage was really good, too! It wasn’t too hard, yet hard enough. Thai masseuses use different techniques as well.
After the massage we went to the Black House compound. This is an area with different buildings constructed by a world famous designer. This dude’s work is 100% different than that of Chalermchai Kositpipat. Apparently this guy lives in the compound and whenever he is in one of the buildings they just close the door and don’t allow access to that building. ..so it’s kinda like a treasure hunt. I was sort of hoping I’d be able to solve the puzzle and find him, but after seeing his work I was also slightly scared to find him. Let’s just say this guy isn’t a huge advocate of animal rights. There’s all sorts of animal skins, pelts, heads, horns, etc on display throughout this compound. Also, the carvings in the wood seem quite hostile. This, accompanied with the black coloring of the buildings, the two live, caged pythons, and super eccentric style make me really wonder what’s going on in this guy’s mind. His work is fascinating. What was his upbringing like? What inspires him? What do all of the carvings mean? I’d love to understand this guy a little more and pick apart his mind.. as long as it’s with at least 10 other people in the same room…
The next day we went to a peaceful waterfall. The ride there was absolutely beautiful. We could see rice crops and so much greenery. I couldn’t help but realize how much it changed my mood. No wonder Thai people are so kind and laid back. They live in this amazing, scerene, tropical area that simply sets the tone for that attitude… and way of life.
The waterfall was a good escape from the business that we had been experiencing. I walked away from the group for a bit to explore. I hiked for a bit upstream.. leaping from rock to rock while listening to the calm stream as the water gently flowed between the rocks. This was awesome. No commotion, no man made interruptions. Just nature as it was intended.
Then chaos hit.. in natural form. I came across a battle site. I noticed a some fresh drops of blood on a rock I was about to step on. Then, I looked around to see little blood splatters on a few rocks in the same area. There was a battle royale here! I almost felt like I should tie a handkerchief around my head, rub some dirt on my cheeks and investigate further.
But I decided to head back. Met up with my friends, enjoyed some fresh pineapple and then rode back to the hostel in the beautiful sunset.
That night Shmalan brought us ladies some more good, authentic food. This time, my favorite was the mango sticky rice. I’m already a big mango fan, but this dish combines mangos with sweet sticky rice and sweet coconut milk. Oh man, thank goodness I don’t live in Thailand because I would eat that all the time!
Chiang Rai is a beautiful city, we saw amazing sites, and ate many delicious foods. 🙂