In Thailand on December 19, 2010 at 8:41 am
The Union of Myanmar thankfully let us back out into Thailand and we headed straight to Chiang Mai for my last night with Adam. We did well on our last night hitting three clubs throughout the city using my previous knowledge that I gained three months ago to full advantage.
Been there and got the t-shirt
Firstly we tried to go and find Nogh, the gay guy who took me out on my birthday to Mandalay Club. Sadly for us he had left The Queen Vic pub job to work for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, a step up he said he wanted. I was pleased for him to discover this, but disappointed we wouldn’t have our gay guide for assistance. Adam was especially disappointed.
Instead we took a Chiang Mai pub crawl into our own hands starting off at The North Gate Jazz Collective for a couple of cocktails, moving on to Hot Shots where the band publicly took the piss out of us for drinking the cheapest whisky on the menu. Next up was Mandalay with some new Thai friends we met in Hot Shots, who very kindly drove us there and we skipped on by the entrance, avoiding the 300 baht fee. Bored of camp men and their queens we missioned it all the way to the outdoor reggae bar that I frequented on many occasions on my last visit to Thaland’s former capital.
It seems to be a running occurrence that when I drink the cheapest whisky I spend the whole next day in bed and luckily I only had to get up so I could get the night bus to Bangkok. I had two seats to myself on the half empty coach so I could spread out and get a relatively good night’s sleep. I got chatting to a retired Iranian school teacher who was sat opposite me and we discussed travelling and family. I then asked him the question that obviously sprang to my mind when he said he was from Iran; “What so you think of Mr Ahmadinejad?”, to that he simply replied laughing and grabbing my arm “I think it’s best we don’t talk about politics”…mysterious.
In Myanmar, Thailand on December 12, 2010 at 11:37 am
I had a couple of places in mind to visit for the week I had to return to Thailand before my flight from Bangkok. Chiang Rai was the natural stop off point from Laos being the first major town. After a swift and fun border crossing that involved drinking the only cider I have managed to find in Asia a couple of Swedish pear ciders and we paid the boatman an extra 10,000 kip to go a long route to Thailand, slightly down stream on the Mekong. Once over we had a swift transfer to a rickety local bus for two and a half hours to Chiang Rai.
When I’d spoken to people about Chiang Rai they pretty much all said the same thing, it’s like a mini Chiang Mai and has an amazing white temple that is well worth a visit. Our first night there didn’t involve much, just the usual drunken antics like annoying a couple of Thai girls by trying to cook in their kitchen and making friends with groups of locals in the hip Face Club in order to have some of their whisky.
Annoying the staff
On day two we got a local bus from the conveniently, and unusually for Asia, centrally located bus station to the White temple. I was blown away by the place. Its official name is Wat Rong Khun and it’s the brainchild of a Thai artist called Chalermchai Kositpipat. Kositpitat is hoping to expand on the current building and have nine identical white temples on the site completed by 2070, the outside of the temple is magnificent and it’s a shame it wasn’t a sunny day when we visited because I can imagine it would have looked even more impressive glistening in the sunlight. The inside of the temple was just as fantastic. It’s meant to signify a type of heaven and hell with Buddha on the wall facing the entrance and on the entrance wall ‘hell’ depicted using modern sci-fi creation murals, these include Neo from The Matrix, the guy from Avatar, Spiderman and Superman.
In Laos on December 10, 2010 at 10:46 am
Adam, the cynical and fellow innuendo obsessed Brit and I decided to leave Luang Prabang together and develop our friendship further north in little idyllic and remote villages. The first such place was Nong Khiaw, a destination Lonely Planet describe as ‘a sleepy market village with a humbling backdrop’.
The humbling backdrop
Our only afternoon there involved a walk to a long and dark cave where villagers hid during the Second Indochina War. While we were there two small and innocent looking children followed us around, whispering to each other as if they were plotting some kind of hit and run mugging scam. We started to whisper too so they felt just as scared and at the chosen moment jumped out at them which made them look like they saw their lives flash before their eyes. We shook hands with them and smiled after but it was a cruel yet funny trick. Perhaps it will teach them it’s rude to whisper behind peoples’ backs.
We walked on a little further up the tarmaced road to a small village where the children only knew the English word ‘pen’. It seems like it’s quite universally known for children to know that specific word but I don’t know why. Unsurprisingly the village shop had a good stock of pens for falang to purchase, so we bought 20 and distributed accordingly with bonus sweets and the full bag was eventually swiped from us by a couple of mothers with sweet teeth.
The lazy Lao bulls