We left Pai on a 5am Aya van for a 6-hour ride to Chiang Rai, Thailand as we inched towards the Laos border. We left during a cold snap (the entire region was having record-breaking cold temperatures) for another curvy drive. It was pitch black, freezing cold with snow(!) on the ground, the van didn’t have heat and the windows were so fogged that the driver had to keep his window down to help defrost the windshield so he didn’t drive off a cliff. Oh, and guess who was sitting directly behind the driver? All of us 13 passengers bundled up, huddled together and did everything we could to keep warm. It was a long ride, but again, we survived.
Once we arrived in Chiang Rai, we dropped our bags at our guesthouse for the night (pretty cute, actually) asked a local for a few tips and set off to catch the city bus to see “The White Temple.”
our giant room for $19 at Baan Rub Aroon Guest House in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Pretty much the only thing of note in Chiang Rai, The White Temple is pretty badass. Unlike its traditional gold competitors, this temple is all white, silver and the interior (no photos allowed) has intricate paintings of modern day characters and current events.
see the lone red fingernail?
in the sunlight, everything was sparkling and magical.
mixed metals from tourist wishes.
this guy was my fave. i can see a fashion designer taking inspiration from this look.
we bought our own wishing ornament, wrote our wish and hung it with the masses.
ting with the famous White Temple creator.
After our peruse around the White Temple, we hopped in a sǎwngthǎew (a larger tuk tuk) for a ride back to the main area of town and spotted a restaurant packed with locals, so we wandered in and ordered our first two bowls of “Khao Soi” (said: cow-soy) a popular noodle soup that’s authentic to Northern Thailand and Laos. It. Was. Delicious.
From there, we wandered around the night market, got lost looking for a restaurant we never did find and watched the “Clock Tower Music & Light Show.” We were told this was another favorite in the city – at 7/8/9pm the clock tower (a giant roundabout) did a show. Cool. We happened to be in the area and headed over to find swarms of Asian tourists with their iPhones up and ready to film the anticlimactic 5-minute show. It was the more anti-clamatic show ever. We laughed the whole way home.
Side note: If you find yourself in Chiang Rai, give Destiny’s Restaurant a go. Not because it’s particularly delicious, but because their mission is one worth supporting. The restaurant serves as a training restaurant and kitchen to help women who’ve been saved from the sex-industry (rampant in Asia) learn industry skills to help them find better ways to earn a living. Many of these women leave the jungle hillside tribes looking for work in the big cities and sadly end up in prostitution or shady bars that cater to gross, old western men. And if you’re really brave, next door is Destiny’s Hair Salon – same concept.
And while this may look like a sidewalk overflowing with garbage, it’s not. We did find it so interesting and inspiring that the street vendors left all their supplies and goods on the sidewalk – no worries about thievery in the Buddhist culture. Love.
And that was pretty much our time in Chiang Rai. It was just enough time.