Homer's Travels: Southeast Asia 2023 - Days Nine, Ten, And Eleven - Chiang Rai, Thailand

Friday, October 27, 2023

Southeast Asia 2023 - Days Nine, Ten, And Eleven - Chiang Rai, Thailand

UPDATED 12-03-2023: Added photos.

Day Nine (Saturday)

We were picked by our guide - her guide name was Beer - and driver and we headed up into the mountains not far from Chiang Rai.  We ended up at the 101 Tea plantation.  The process of growing and producing teas was explained before we sat down for a tasting of seven or eight different varieties of tea.  Not being tea drinkers, the Wife and I agreed that they all tasted like grass.  This tasting just reinforced my dislike of tea.

A tea plantation in the misty morning.
After the tea tasting we drove into the nearby town and walked through the market.  Our guide pointed out the variety of food and spices available. I am a man of simple tastes and spices, to me, just muddle the true flavor of the food you are trying to eat and if you need to spice something to make it good then maybe you shouldn't be eating it.

Inside the Black House.
After the market we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant.  The majority of tourist visiting Thailand are from China so many restaurants cater to them.  The food was good and a nice change from the Thai food we'd been eating.

In the afternoon we visited the Black House, an artist/professor's house and gallery.  His house and the surrounding compound featured his art and the art of his students.  It was an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary Thai art.  I liked most of it but he definitely had a phallic fixation.

The last stop of the day was the White Temple built by a friend and colleague of the Black House professor.   The spectacular White Temple gleams in the sun.  Inside and outside there is a mixture of traditional and contemporary images.  Unlike the Black House, the White Temple has a stronger Buddhist vibe even though there are images of Marvel and DC superheroes, Star Wars characters, and some anime cartoons decorating some of the interior not to mention the Thai Ironman statue outside the temple entrance.

The White temple.
Day Ten (Sunday)

We drove back up into the mountains to visit the Queen Mother's Villa.  From here she ran many education and retraining projects to help move people away from the drug trade towards legal exports.  On the way up the mountains our van had to compete with runners and cyclists doing a marathon up the mountain to celebrate the late Queen Mother's birthday.

The Queen Mother's gardens with her villa.
The villa was a very comfortable looking with views of the mountains and the villa gardens.  We had some cookies and cream coconut milk ice cream which was really good.

After leaving the villa we wondered around trying to find a restaurant that wasn't crowded and ended up at a really good Thai restaurant.  I think our guide added it to her mental list for future reference. 

After lunch we drove up to the Thai - Burmese border to shop at a Burmese market.  We found a place with really cool stuff but, no matter how hard the Wife tried, they would not negotiate the prices down enough. This was her first negotiation failure but the blame is on the shopkeeper who wouldn't accept a fair price. 

After our disappointment we drove to the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet.  The three countries are divided by the Mekong and the Ruak rivers. We visited a temple and an Opium Museum here.  The museum displayed the history and tools of the opium trade as well as example of hill tribe dress and customs. 

Day Eleven (Monday)

This day was a lot of driving.  We were leaving Chiang Rai and heading to Chiang Mai.  Along the way we visited Akha and Palaung tribal villages.  During the Akha tour we experienced our first rain.  I also managed to break one of the driver's umbrellas.  His tip went up because of that.

Inside the cave/temple.
We stopped at a cave which was being used as a Buddhist temple.  While I was there I accidentally knocked over a bottle of Fanta Red that was an offering to a shrine.  I haven't experienced any bad luck yet but I'm trying to be careful.

We ended the day in Chiang Mai.  The Wife and I took a tuk-tuk to one of the night bazaars to look for treasures. I didn't find anything for me but the Wife got some good deals. 

It was a long day.  Tomorrow we explore some more of Thailand. 

Photos can be found in my 2023 Thailand Google Photos album. 

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