La and I finished up our tour of the north of Thailand by visiting it’s second largest city Chiang Mai and then spent a few pleasant days in Thailand’s northernmost city Chiang Rai.
By now it is pretty clear that Thailand’s cities are fairly characterless, with only a few notable traits. Chiang Mai for example is a more charming imitation of Bangkok, our (grubby) hostel found next to the Somphet market, where regular small groups of tourists, presumably on cooking courses, listen attentively to their well trained guide. All around us where quaint shops selling very hip (and expensive) clothes, fresh fruit smoothies, American breakfasts, and coffee.
We visited a Muay Thai Boxing event, something I had been very much looking to, it did not disappoint. Although it was clear that the fighters were all fairly amateurish to my untrained eye it was impressive all the same and I can not help but admire anyone who willingly punishes themselves to such a degree.
Rather inefficiently we also joined a tour of Chiang Rai: White Temple, Golden Triangle, boat trip, Tiger penis whiskey. Check, check, check, and check. The day endured about four or five hours of bus journeying which we then repeated when we left Chiang Mai for Chiang Rai again the next morning.
After Pak Chong, Chiang Rai gave LA and I a chance to plant a toe or two on off the beaten track. With very few tourists and only a small but lively night bazaar to keep us entertained in evening we slumbered around, careful not exert too much energy, evermore lazy.
We did visited an ostrich farm, which was fun while it lasted, but I suppose the highlight of the trip was visiting the Baan Dam museum or more ominously ‘The Black House’.
Created by Mr Miyagi lookalike Thawan Duchanee (longer hair, very stern looking) there are, according to Wikitravel ‘nearly 40 small black houses made of wood, glass, concrete, bricks, or terracotta in various unique styles and design scattered around the temple area.’ As I understand it the museum was built in direct contradiction to the popular White Temple and is magnificently Gothic, all animals carcasses and giant snakes. Hard to find, stubbornly out of the way and pleasingly eery.
…and that’s it or the north. Next we fly nearly two-thousand kilometers down south to tourist haven Phuket.