Monday, February 25, 2013

Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle

Sunday Feb 24:  We stop at the Mae Khachan Hot Springs where we are supposed to be able to soak our feet. But this area is closed for cleaning.

 One unique hot springs vendor has an area of boiling hot water where she plys her trade of boiling eggs, chicken eggs or bird eggs. Of course I opt for bird eggs.
Putting the eggs in the water in a tiny bamboo basket

It doesn't take long to cook them.

Done and put in a bag with a tiny packet of soy sauce if you like

Our guide peels one. Very tasty.
We stop at the Fishes Palace.  Fun place to feed the fish in a big mountain lagoon.

The big koi come first

Then the catfish start to show up.

Then it is a pile on of catfish. Some huge ones. I read that the giant catfish are good eating and sell for 300 bahts/pound.

We were supposed to eat lunch here, but we opt to go to the White Temple first and then go into Chiang Rai.
Cabbages and Condoms. I snapped this photo while riding in a  cycle cab or trishaw.
The White Temple or Wat Rong Khun was designed by an artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat. Since Thai kings usually choose one temple to be the final resting place for their ashes and since this king, who is quite old and has had quite a few illnesses, has not yet chosen a temple, the artist has been lobbying him to choose this temple.
The artist designed the traffic cones

William and the artist

The White Temple is glittering

Hell or earthly desires

Hands grasp up

No pictures inside

The grounds are lovely and we spend time in the gallery of paintings and the gift shop.
Into Chiang Rai and a tour around town in a trishaw. Fun riding through the streets.
One to a trishaw is better. In India we two were stuffed in one and the rider had a hard time pedaling.

lovely decorated center dividers

decorations in a park

Order a pizza and a guy on a motorcycle delivers it.
Chang means elephant in Thai. Our guide jokes that elephant beer is made of elephant pee.

Nicely landscaped parks

7 elevens are everywhere.

Decorating a park for a Buddhism Day celebration on Monday.
We are taking a hop on hop off tour of the city and we hop off at a food market.
The North of Thailand makes pretty good sausage


Half a chicken complete with goodies.

Innards anyone?

William races ahead past an ornate clock tower. Thais do love gold.
Off to the hotel to rest.

Monday Feb. 25:  We first visit the Black Houses of Dr. Thawan Duchanee. Our guide says Thai's find this art sad. I am not sure why. It is unusual and mostly installation art rather than sculpture or paintings. I like it.

In the jaws of the whale

 Then we are off to the hill tribe village of the Long Neck Karen and the Big Ears Kayor.  The long neck people began wearing the brass rings around their necks to ward off tiger attacks.  Now it is just a cultural thing. The long ear people wear large plugs in their ears as a form of suffering, we were told. The tribes are Christian and in addition to small scale farming and handicrafts have benefactors.

Puppies play at my feet in the Karen village
Handicraft shops

Our guide holds up a set of half rings to my neck to see how I would look.

A big ear woman with very large ear plugs.

The first rings go on at age 5

 When we leave we pass workers planting rice in the old labor intensive fashion. The rice is begun in a starter area then transplanted plant by plant into the small paddy.  This is still common in rural areas. In more populated areas more mechanization is used.

 Next to Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Saen an ancient city.

The restored and gilded Buddha
The restored chedi

We look out over the Mekong River. Myanmar is down the river and to our left and Laos is across the river.
 Time for a ride in a Thai version of a cigarette boat. Long, narrow and fast. We head upriver a bit. Then down to a shopping area in Laos. They must have a knock off purse factory near here. Tons of purses.  We keep walking until we get to the area with faux antiquities. Much more interesting.
Hang on and off we go

When the water is high the big Buddha appears to be floating on the water

speeding across a big river

Boatman takes off

Snake Whiskey. Ugh!

faux antiquities
 Our last stop is the House of Opium Museum. We meet a couple from San Diego who have relatives who live in the Nevada City area. Small world.
Our last stop is the Mekhong Riverside Hotel.  You can see the Mekhong from our window and the moon is full tonight.
Moon over the Mekhong

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