We had finally made it to our last stop in South East Asia, Thailand. Like with most places we have visited we didn’t really know what to expect, however after travelling through Asia for 3 months now, we were ready for whatever it had to throw at us- we were very pleasantly surprised. It turns out public transport is much more foreigner friendly, and we were able to hop on board a rickety old bus from the border town, to the next stop on our itinerary – Chiang Rai.
We had not arranged anywhere to stay as we wanted to scope out the city first and then choose where best to stay. We spent an hour trudging around the area where most of the backers where and found a very sweet little guesthouse. Ou room was furnished with two little beds and a small bathroom; it wasn’t much but it was clean, quiet and friendly, so just what we needed. That evening we made our way to the mile long night market, full of all kinds of treasures and gifts.
At one point, the whole street, which was crammed full of tourists and locals alike, came to a completly silent standstill, whilst music played over a sound system( even the traffic stopped). We soon became aware that it was the national anthem being played and we were in a moment of silence for the late King. Although the King passed away 4 months ago, it is still clear that the whole country is still grieving. The way the Thais cherish their King with so much love and repeat, is amazing, and something we were going to see a lot more in the weeks to come.
Feeling impressed with the ease in which we arrived in Thailand, we decided to give public transport another go on our way to visit the famous White Temple. Arriving at the local bus station , we were ushered onto a ragged green bus, where we bought our ticket for 30p. With no air conditioning to cool the bus, all windows had been thrown open to let in as much air as possible. This made for an extremely windy journey and hair flying everywhere, but it made it all the more amusing.
Eventually we came to a cross roads, where we had to disembark the bus, whilst trying our best not to get run over by the crazy traffic still whizzing by. We walked around the corner and were met with a beautiful sight. The breath taking temple curled and twirled its way up through the sky like some sort of wedding cake topper.
The water that surrounded it, reflected the clear blue sky, making the temple seem even more pearly white. This temple is unlike any other we had seen before,and is actually a modern take on the more traditional ones. The artist who design the temple, purposefully placed it up high on a hill, so that people would have to climb up and over the water, away from the tortured souls that surrounded it.
If we thought the outside was impressive, the inside took it to a whole new level. Instead of the murals painted on the walls depicting classic Buddhist scenes, like traditional temples, one wall was painted with the fiery flames of hell and the opposite held the image of Buddha, and what seemed something like heaven. However it was what went with the flames and fire that amused us most. Pop culture characters where painted all over. Ben 10 , the minions, Captain Jack Sparrow, spider man, you name it it was there, even the international space station was found being sucked into the fiery depths of hell ( ?!). We never quite figured out the meaning behind this as the museum was out for lunch, but it was very interesting none the less.
One of my favourite parts of the temple was the walk ways leading away from it. Paths were shaded from the harsh sun by hangings of beautiful silver leaves, each one holding its own prayer, wish or thought. These were left behind by visitors, remembering their lost ones, thinking about things to come, or just giving thanks for what they already had. It seemed like a perfect way to end our own trip, by creating our own one, making time for reflection and thanks, especially as Thailand holds a special place in my heart.
Another of our favourite memories from Chiang rai was the fantastic cafe we found along the way, called ‘Cat n Cup’. A place that combined two off my favourite things- cats and tea.Many hours were passed here, playing with the feline inmates.
Our favourite, a cat we named Mr fluffy , for obvious reason, took a particular liking to us, and fell asleep snuggled up close.
Chaing Rai- what a wonderful place to start our time in 🇹🇭.