Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand

Chiang Rai an overnight stay

Day 4: 4/17
I’m now leaving Chiang Rai. Headed back to Chiang Mai. I used the Green Bus and booked in advance on 12Go Asia. I booked the VIP bus but on the way here and they said the bus was broken. I read all about this happening on reviews, but it was mixed. I ended up on a first class bus which really wasn’t too bad. They refunded the difference in cash at the 12Go Asia desk after asking about the ticket classification, before I left Chiang Mai.
I had plenty of leg room because I had the 2 seats to myself. It was a rough ride due to construction and we were 30 minutes later than a VIP because it made about 4 other stops- not a HUGE deal. When I arrived I grabbed my things and made my way to my hostel. It was only a 5 minute walk away, it’s called Bed&Bike Poshtel. I had booked a private room- the double standard, which was enough space for just me. It would be a bit cramped with two because the room isn’t much larger than the bed; it’s all I needed for 1 night. I was here to see 2 temples, an art museum and the night bazaar. Check, check, check and… kinda check. I arrived a little after 14:00.

Wat Rong Khun- Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun or The White Temple closes at 17:00 and is about 15 minutes out of town in the opposite direction of the Blue Temple.

Moat with a dragon statue rising out at sun set- Wat Rong Khun in the background, after closing.

I decided on my ride to Chiang Rai that I would have enough time to go there still, even though I was running behind schedule because of the extra 3 stops on the 1st class bus. I needed to check-in, shower, change, and hurry over there. It was about 15:30 when I left the hostel. I passed a few tuk tuk options all asking for 150 baht one way. No thanks.
I researched rates prior to coming here and it’s only 20 baht on the public bus. Back to terminal 1, bay 9. We took off around 15:55 made 2 quick stops and were at the temple by 16:07- I have about an hour!! The reason I insisted on coming toward close was to capture the temple empty, around golden hour. Otherwise, I’d have liked to come for sunrise but it would be on the wrong side, luck was on my side with timing!
The only problem is the public bus stops running at 17:00, I stayed until 18:00, maybe even later. I had to get a Grab- the temple is too far from town to find tuk tuks. Maybe there is a peak season where they frequent the area more often, or maybe during the opening hours? I may have been able to catch a ride an hour ago but then I would’ve missed the serenity of the temple without the crowd. It was about 188 baht to get back in the Grab. On the way back we listened to thai music and cranked the AC. After returning I showered again and changed into shorts. I’d have dinner at the night bazaar.

Night Bazaar, Chiang Rai

This night bazaar was nicer than the one in Chiang Mai, it was more traditional and although catering to tourists, it was better laid out and the vendors were not as pushy. There was lots of food options and ‘courts’. There was a duet playing live music: Elvis Presley, Can’t Help Falling in Love with You. It was just incredible.
The goods here were not as abundant and I didn’t find anything I couldnt find in Chiang Mai. Unfortunately, I was not able to complete the bazaar. I was looking at some brilliant art- masterpieces, these pieces should be in a museum of art. They were charcoal portraits done using brushes, they were insanely beautiful!
All of a sudden the wind picked up. This massive tree in the courtyard dropped half its leaves and the merchants hurriedly packed and shut down shop. It was about to storm. It was crazy how fast they closed the bazaar. I made it back to my ‘poshtel’ in 3 minutes (walking) and was covered before the clouds dropped the rain. The rain was light but the thunder and winds were abundant. It’s a shame it didn’t rain more, they are in desperate need. The air is still polluted from 1-2 months ago. It was burn season and they haven’t had much rain or wind since to help clear the air. Another night to pack.

Day 2 in Chiang Rai

me walking toward 3 house installments in the 'Black House' museum. back is the tha camera- leopard skirt and emerald green backpack.

Day 5: 4/18
The plan for today was to wake up around 07:00, get ready, and walk to my first temple. From there I’d hire a tuk tuk to take me to the museum and… wait- NEW PLAN. For starters, I slept very well. I woke up before my alarm, around 06:45. I got ready and had to keep opening and closing my backpack. This is not an easy task. Side note, these zippers on the REI 60L are stronger than a father-daughter bond. I guess the seams are strong too!
Yesterday my calves were really sore, most likely from the 309 step of the Naga Serpent staircase in Chiang Mai. Today I woke up and they were so tight I could barely walk down the stairs. I figured at this point I’d have breakfast, it’s almost 08:00 and it’s included with my room. I order a ham and cheese sandwich with orange juice and an iced mocha to go. Time for a tuk tuk.

Wat Rong Seur Ten, Chiang Rai

upclose of blue buddhist statue at the Blue temple- out front

The first tuk tuk driver says ‘150 baht’ just to drop me off at Wat Rong Seur Ten. This is about a 10 minute ride. Nope, this defintely is a rip off. I continue to the bus station where there are more options, therefore also bartering. I find a guy who wants 500 baht to include two stops, dropping off at the last. Or 100 baht for 12 mins to drop me off at Wat Rong Seur Ten or the Blue Temple. Fine.
Upon arrival I hand him 1000 baht, he has no change. He then offers to do the full trip there and back with waiting in between for 400 baht. Hell yeah! I think this is a fair price for both of us. It’s more than the average daily pay for a thai in this region and it’s only like $12 for me. The museum is pretty far and it was well worth it. It would’ve been better of course to meet some people going to the same spots and split it but then I’d be on someone else’s time. I enjoy my freedom- no time constraints.

sitting on the stairs behind the Blue Temple looking up at a large, all white, standing Bhuddist statue.
Underside picure looking up at a statue holding a blue globe at the Blue Temple.

I really liked today’s temple and loved the museum. I read mixed reviews about it. The museum I went to is called Baandam. I’d say it’s pretty modern and is a mixed between eastern and western culture. Some see it as dark- it’s also called the Black house.
I spent majority of my time here. A nice change from all the temples. Theres a lot of space here and seemingly less people because of how big it is. The owner of this compound is an international artist and this is his biggest gallery.

Baan Dam museum, Chiang Rai

me standing in a doorway at the largest compund in the 'Black House' museum. behind me is an inticately carved wooden house.

We left the museum to head back to my hostel around 11:30. I arrived back to the hostel right after 12:15. I had about 2 hours to kill before heading to the bus stop. Lunch time.
I started to look for options when I realized what I really needed was a foot massage. Can you have too many massages?! I paid 200 baht ($6) for an hour foot massage. This was 45 minutes on my calves and feet followed by 15 minutes on my shoulders and neck. Perfect!
By the time it was complete all the authentic thai restaurants closed. Whoops! One of them was scheduled to close at 14:00 and was closed by 13:40. I went back to my hostel and had lunch there. I had a green curry with chicken and noodles instead of rice. Not bad! Then I grabbed my things- I had checked out earlier and left my bag by the stairs with a change of clothes.

The bus back to Chiang Mai

That brings me to now. I am currently on the bus back to Chiang Mai. I actually think maybe my first bus was the 2nd class and this is 1st class. I guess the VIP bus is still broken. They gave me cash back again with my ticket. I should arrive back to Chiang Mai in 3 hours. I am scheduled to do laundry today. I might just drop it off and pick it up when I come back to Chiang Mai again.
I don’t have any soap and have been good about cleaning as I go with mild body soap. It should cost less and make it easier to pack for tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning I’ll be picked up to go stay with the elephants!! I cannot wait. 

Click here to read my post about my overnight stay, alone with 2 elephants, at the Maeklang Elephant Sanctuary in the Mae Wang district

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