Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

A different Thailand

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For those that have never been to Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, it’s worth planning a trip as the city is so different from Bangkok and the islands of the south. It actually feels like a real town with quaint little neighborhoods and actual space to walk on the sidewalks. Lazy mornings spent grazing the city center’s markets, young monks in vibrant tangerine robes walking to and from the temples, dragonflies and white butterflies flitting above the Mekong Delta, food huts standing on the side of dirt roads…this is the Thailand I’ve been waiting to see. (Funny thing is we have 5 different city maps and not one version seems to be accurate. Wendy decided today that we need to present the city with an edited consolidated version of their maps. I couldn’t agree more.)

We arrived early yesterday evening and took it easy, finding a hole in the wall to grab dinner. Since nothing was in English and Chiang Rai does not seem to cater to many tourists, we just agreed on whatever our server mentioned. What we should have done, in retrospect, is ask for kow soi, the curry noodle dish/soup this region is known for. Lesson learned as we were served American-style Thai friend rice.

This morning, we rented mountain bikes from Fat Free Bikes (for 200 baht/person) and started the day by riding through the residential neighborhoods. What a beautifully old and historic town. The roads are fairly flat, and the ride was just what we were looking for. We waited for a herd of cows to cross the road, smiled at old wrinkly women wearing long sleeves and sweaters in 80 degree heat, greeted shop owners holding their toddlers with “Sawahdeekah,” and tried not to get ourselves killed riding on the left side of the road. We also found Chiang Rai beach which actually sits on the side of the Mekong river and does not look like a beach at all. I was surprised to find that there were only three or four other people there on such a gorgeous day. It’s always pleasant when you go somewhere in Thailand and find that it hasn’t been overly developed or commercialized. Rare, but pleasant.
Tomorrow, after we return our bikes and find the best kow soi in Chiang Rai, we’re getting back on the Green Bus and heading south to Chiang Mai to spend the rest of the week. Looking forward to spending more time outside breathing in the lush air and being active.

Written by winniewongsf

November 24, 2009 at 11:09 am

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