Chaing Rai…..part 1….
Archive for the 17/3/2013
We could have ridden from Chiang Khong to Chiang Mai (360 klms), but decided that we wanted to check out Chiang Rai on the way…..
Which was only a short ride of (138 klms)…..
Shortly after leaving Chiang Klong, we discovered a fantastic Green Buddha N20.15146 E100.35539…
wow it was stunning, it was a shame that it had this ugly tin roof over the top of it …
We decided not to take the main flat road but headed for the road that took us over the hills, which then descended onto flat roads surrounded by lush green rice fields…..
It was pleasant ride along a very quite road that literally abruptly ended and went into the city by what seemed to be a side entrance…..
We decided to book a hotel a little way out of Chaing Rai, as not being to fond of cities…
We arrived at our Hotel, the Chayadol Boutique Resort that is in the suburb of Amphoe Mueang in the afternoon….
After checking in we were shown to room ‘666’…I knew I was traveling with the devil…….
After a swim in the not so warm pool…we sat on our balcony and had a lazy afternoon deciding what we wanted to see within the area…..
The city is located 860 km north of Bangkok, about 200 kilometres northeast of Chiang Mai City, 62 kilometres south of Mae Sai and the Burmese border; 60 kilometres southwest of the town of Chiang Saen on the Mekong River across from Laos; and 90 kilometres north of Phayao town. The Golden Triangle, the tripoint of the Thailand, Laos and Myanmar borders, is 55 km northeast of the city.
We left the guest house after our usual breakfast and headed out to do a loop ride around the mountains just north of town…
Heading out of town we soon came to the turn off (1089) and followed a twisty road up to a intersection with a police checkpoint that let us through with a friendly wave…
It was getting very high, with steep decents down into the valleys before you climbed up again.
We stopped for morning tea at a vantage view point and picnic spot, and ate our rolls that we had brought.
So very peaceful up here….
Further a long we came across lots of tea plantations that led into the town of Mai Salong a very heavily populated Chinese community mostly selling tea, in stall on the side of the road.
Mae Salong was settled by remnants of the former Nationalist (Kuomintang) Chinese Army 93rd Division who moved from Burma to Thai territory in 1961….
Originally a military base biding its time for an attack back, funding its arms purchases with opium production….
Opium production was successfully substituted with mountain produce like mushrooms and above all oolong tea, which is now Mae Salong’s main product.
We came across a resort which had beautiful gardens, so we turned around and went down the driveway to take a look, we also inquired how much it was to stay…it was very expensive, no wonder the place was empty!…..
The roads had beautiful views, and thinking as this area grew tea, then why not find a ‘Tea’ house, so while riding along we spotted some very large teapots down the side of a hill, so yet agin we turned around to go and investigate…that’s the beauty of having your own two wheels you can do things on a whim !!!
Down the bottom of a very steep dirt road,thinking if it got any steeper we wouldn’t get back up….
I think these huge teapots were once they were used as tea rooms…Sadly no tea for us 😦
They were guarded by two enormous Chinese tiger statues.
It really is so pretty up around here, but all good things have to end…so descending to the highway meant that it concluded our loop…but not before stopping of in one of the many cafes along this busy highway for a mocha frappe and a chocolate mud cake….
Today We decided to go in search of some waterfalls,longnecks and elephants!
We had previously seen the Karen longneck sign on the highway just outside Chiang Rai so they were an easy find.
So we rode out of town and up the highway, taking a right turn, we rode past lots of rice paddy fields before turning left into the ‘Long Neck’ village…
We were charged $10 entry fee, to see the Long Necks… you then walk down the steps towards the bamboo woven grass huts, they use for selling their goods-which are mainly beautiful hand woven shawls, and a few wooden figurines plus other usual tourist paraphernalia! Selling these items are their only way to survive…I ended up buying a lovely blue shawl, it took me a while to choose as they had so many amazing colours…
The Karen Long Necks are not Thai.
They are refugees from Burma, they’re not allowed to work jobs that can be done by the Thai people, so they set up Tourist villages so they can sell what they make, to make an income.
The brass rings around the Long Neck Women distorts the growth of their collarbones by pushing down on the clavicle making them look as if they have long necks – which they don’t. It’s just an illusion.
In fact the row of brass rings do not actually stretch their necks but in fact squash the vertebrae and collar bones. A woman can have as many as twenty or more rings around her neck. We did notice that some of the women also had rings on their legs and arms too!
Girls as young girls are 5 or 6 years old start to have rings put on their necks!
We were told the original reason for them wearing the brass rings was because it was supposed to protect them from tigers! Today i think its for the tourist?
Next we rode up a pleasant windy road that followed the river along, we then stopped off at a Buddha cave and a place where the locals come to hang out on little platfoms perched over the water to have a few drinks, maybe a bite to eat while the kids swim…
We decided to keep exploring along the river and we stumbled across an elephant camp, where you can go for a ride on them…
we parked up the bike along side the fence and walked in…
We enjoyed a coffee while watching the elephants tussle each other with their trunks (i think it was close to mating season)…later we walked freely around taking photos of these magnificent giants.
we couldnt believe how close up and personal we could get with these elephants, the Mahouts didn’t mind either.
There was a little shop on the other side of the road selling bananas, so we bought a bunch to feed the elephants with, a fun time was had by all 🙂
Whether or not you like these type of places at least the elephants have a home and looked well cared for…left in the wild they could be killed for trampling farmers crops…it really is a doubled edged sword!!
I noticed a track back down the road that was marked on our map that was a ‘short’ cut to get to a another road that led to a waterfall!
Well it was a dirt track that seemed to go nowhere but we persisted with it, taking us through banana plantations and rice feilds and eventually put us on the correct road to the waterfall….
Boy was it busy loads of locals, mostly youngsters that were doing crazy spinning jumps into the water showing off in front of their mates and girlfriends, who were to busy to notice as they were washing their hair in the river…
All in it was a great day out… we got back to the guest house and had a swim before going out to dinner…..