Marge and I had an extremely early wake up call today. At approximately 7 AM we were downstairs ready to meet Amy to start our day. Today’s itinerary was to eventually end up in Chiang Rai, known for it being the place of the golden triangle, otherwise known as the place where Thailand, Laos, and Burma all intersect. While Chiang rai should be a must on every tourist’s itinerary… There is a downside. It is approximately a 4 hour van ride to get there from Chiang Mai.
Although the long ride was quite daunting, Marge and I did have a saving grace: we were in a “pimped out van” for lack of a better word. We had a whole van to ourselves (normally seats 11) and our chairs could lean all the way back which allowed Marge and I the ability to sleep for most of the ride there. So necessary! Our guide Amy also helped make the ride go by quickly through her planned stops along the way yo Chiang Rai.
Our first stop was a bathroom break and hot springs. Marge and I put our feet in the amazingly warm but soothing water. We also bought some new pants for the many temples we still have to visit along with the best coconut ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s never too early for ice cream! (Side note it was approximately 8:30 AM at this point).
Our second stop was one of my favorite places Marge and I have visited so far, known as the white temple. From first glance, this contemporary temple looks like it could be one of the palaces from the movie Frozen. However it is even more detailed than Disney makes there palaces. When walking to the main temple, Marge and I walked across the bridge of hell which contained thousands of hands and skeletons arising from the ground below us. I was mesmerized. Once taking a picture on the gate, we were told to go into the temple of heaven. However we were not allowed to look back as we did not want to enter hell a second time. Once inside the temple, the artist, who had built the temple through the use of his own funds and donations (very impressive), had painted murals inside again representing the concept of the dichotomy between heaven and hell. One of the coolest parts, which unfortunately I couldn’t capture on film as we were not allowed to take pictures, were the many modern superheroes on the walls symbolizing even superheroes couldn’t save people from the depths of hell. Some of the featured superheroes were Star Wars characters, batman, minions, and Spider-Man
After our second stop, we traveled for another hour until we finally reached Chiang Rai’s golden triangle checkpoint. We stopped for a lunch complete with great fried rice and spicy seafood soup, and the we took a small boat around the golden triangle.
I can’t begin to describe the feelings that I had when riding that boat. All my thought vanished and it felt like it was just me and the water. This moment was perhaps the most peaceful I’ve felt in a while. The feeling was incredible and rather exhilarating. Once we had seen Thailand, Burhma, and Laos from the water, we then docked on Laos. In Laos, we walked around local markets and even stopped to try snake whiskey… Yes there is a real snake in there.
Amy let us try a shot of snake whiskey. Marge took a casual sip and then i did too realizing it wasn’t as bad or nearly as hot as Amy had told us. To Amy’s surprise I took the rest of the shot back (which was still pretty full) so as to not “waste any of the alcohol”. I think Amy was slightly concerned whereas I was impressed at myself because I’ve never been talented before today when it comes to shot taking talents. Amy mentioned this moment many times throughout the rest of our trip.
After arriving back to Thailand, we were given an option to buy pictures of us on the boat. A constant theme of this trip is I am always aware of pictures being taken of me while Marge is not. To give Marge credit, the Thai people have a way of sneakily taking your photo so when we looked at the photos I was of course smiling looking directly at the camera while Marge had absolutely no clue what was going on. Although I didn’t buy the pic of Marge (biggest regret), I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.
After our boat ride, Amy and our driver took us to a village of the Acai people which quite frankly was extremely hard to see. In this village, women do the work while the men sleep and smoke all day. Furthermore children are used for the sole purpose of begging. Marge and I handed out chocolates to the kids, but they were primarily after money so when a tour bus came they ran excitedly away from us screaming at the new comers.
On our 4 hour ride back, Marge and I asked Amy some intrusive questions about the culture of Chiang Mai ranging from prostitution to poverty and finally to the lady boys that Thailand is famous for. Hearing Amy’s responses to these questions has never made me so thankful to have grown up with such amazing family and friends in a county like the U.S that allows both females and makes to pursue their passions and travel – something that the people of Thailand are not able to do. Amy’s most amazing story was her dream: become a millionaire because if she could be a millionaire than she would be allowed by Thailand to travel to other countries, especially Australia. Now to be a millionaire in Thai standards, one would have to have roughly 25000 U.S. Dollars, a salary that in U.S. Standards would put people in poverty. She continued talking about poverty and mentioned that many females including her 13 year old daughter’s best friend, become prostitutes in order to make enough money to support themselves and their families. Stories like these really make you take a step back and realize how lucky you truly are.
We arrived back at the hotel around 8 pm. Marge and I were starving and so we headed to the night market. We got some fried rice for dinner (classic) and then proceeded to buy the coolest and best ice cream (better than the coconut) I’ve ever had. To see how this ice cream is made, search Thai ice cream on YouTube.. It has almost 3 million views. I got vanilla ice cream with strawberries and Oreos. The pic is below.. It doesn’t even come close to showing how good the ice cream was. After the night market, Marge and I went back and went to bed.. We were exhausted!