Chiang Mai and The White Temple of Chiang Rai.

Off to the markets we go to have a look around and find something to eat. Chiang Mai is an easy place to get around.

We find the night market and manage to tuck into some local street food for about £2.00 for two, then take a wander back passing through what we called ting tong alley or lady boy land. Presumably the red light area and full of contractors and a random selection of western people and all the burger and chips you can eat!

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Next day we are booked into a thai cooking class, they pick us up and off we go with 6 other people. Amazing, nearly everyone we met were lucky enough to have got extended leave from work of about 12 weeks to be able to travel and they thought it was great that we were brave enough to actually give up work to follow our dream and have enough courage to know we can find new jobs when we return back to the UK in March. Wonder where we will end up, seems a long time away but it will soon come around.

Steve has a great time showing off his cooking skills and giving Deb an excuse when they get home to say “it’s your turn to cook tonight.”

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Next morning we are up earlier to catch our ride to Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and Golden Triangle. We did contemplate an overnight stay but since our hostel was good and cheap we went for the 14 hr minibus trip. Just as well as Chiang Rai town looked ok but nothing special.

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On route we stop for a comfort break at a warm natural spring. So natural the geyser is powered by pump, yes crazy tourists, if you don’t believe us just take a look when you pass back at night as it’s been switched off!

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The White Temple is amazing, built by a guy who is still alive and he spends all his time still extending it. Should be finished in about 90 years. When we were there he was giving a talk that looked very light hearted as everyone was laughing but we didn’t have a clue what he was saying?

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It’s a modern interpretation of Buddhism and really worth going to see. The only gold here is the toilet block, yes this really is a toilet block and representing the greed of mankind.

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There aren’t loads of donation boxes and he self funded the build so he doesn’t have to comply to the wishes of those donating. He will accept money but only small amounts. As you walk over the bridge you look down and see hundreds of hands reaching up, these are hands of men and if you look carefully the hand of a woman with a red finger nail. Apparently this is because it is more men who want the power and to get to the top and most women are more caring and kind.

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You cannot take photos inside due to the exquisite art work by Chalermchai Kositpipat as he does not want it copied. It was amazing and so detailed, very modern, it depicted all the bad things in the world. There was an American president sat on top of a rocket flying through the air, the twin towers on fire, batman and robocop standing by being fake super heros. He questions the world’s lack of real heros, as there are no super heros to save mankind from themselves. Pop stars, mobile phones and corporate brands all trying to make you desire possessions over being kind and thoughtful. It’s very modern and some people really didn’t like it.

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Next we travel to a hill side tribe called the Karen people. You will have seen these people in photos, ones with long necks and brass rings around them. No photos here as this is an awful tourist place that is a tat market of so called dressed up tribe people selling, so called handmade items that just happen to be the same as all other markets. If you want to see the long necked people its an extra cost. Did Deb and Steve want to see kids forced to wear brass rings to help make money.
No thank you!! We quickly left.

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On to the golden triangle where three country borders meet, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. It used to be one of the largest opium areas in Asia but now it’s just tourist central. The views are good and if you like you can take the boat trip to Laos but we are going to the country later so no need to waste our money now.

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Final part of the trip is to the boarder control into Myanmar, just a quick stop to see the boarder crossing and see just how poor the country is compared to Thailand. These guys were fishing in the river, not sure what they thought they were going to catch in the filthy river?

Then it was time to zoom back and we mean ZOOM..Our driver was weaving and dodging and over taking on bends but we make it back safe and sound.

Then it’s Sunday. If you are planning to come to Chiang Mai try and plan a Sunday night here. There is a big local night market and it actually sells real hand made local crafts and real genuine pieces of art. Must be good as even the locals are seen shopping here.

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What no tales of the elephants we hear you say. That’s what Chiang Mai is famous for? Once you have seen elephants in the wild, you will understand why we did not entertain seeing these majestic creatures in captivity. Just think before you want to go ride one or want to treat it like a pet.

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No sooner than we arrive it is time to leave the crazy people of Chiang Mai and the very heavy pollution. If you’re a sufferer of chest problems make sure you bring your inhaler and wear a mask. Deb spent most of her time here annoying Steve with the super asian pollution cough, it was delightful! Now time for our flight to Luang Prabang in Laos and no this is not Steve, he hasn’t changed this much. ­čśé
Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Thailand We Go.

We arrive in Bangkok and head to our hotel ready to see in The New Year.

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1st thing you notice about Thailand is the amount of black and white fabric draped everywhere and huge pictures of the king who had passed away in 2016 or as called in Thailand 2559. We knew Thailand was in a year of mourning but did not expect to see so much black everywhere. You cannot go anywhere without seeing the respect for the king. In an average kilometer you see maybe 7 or 8 large shrines to him. They are outside all the company’s buildings and inside the lobbys. It’s amazing the time and effort everyone has put in to it. Even the televisions have a broadcast on it every 20 mins or so.

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We get to our hotel after our delayed flight in the early hours of the morning and take a peek on the balcony to see we have a lovely temple view. Little do we know that the excitement of the 1st temple will soon drift off. We knew there were alot but Steve got templed out pretty quick with Deb following slowly behind. There are just so many temples everywhere that you have to pick just a couple to look at.

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Bangkok is just our mini stop for New Years Eve. During the day we spend our time evading the tourist scams and are disappointed that we don’t get to zoom around in a tuk tuk. Seriously, if you want to save money just take a taxi. The tuk tuks charge on average 4 times more than the cost of a taxi, it’s got A/C and you don’t have to breath in the pollution!

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Did we manage to dodge all the scams? Nearly, just over paid for 2 bottles of water, instead of 7 bhat each we paid 15 bhat as it was late and we were so thirsty. Watch yourselves out there, those friendly people trying to help you on the streets seem to always be in the same spot, it’s not a coincidence ????

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New Years Eve is spent in Khao San road with buckets of rum and cokes and watching the strangest of people. Steve doing the usual dodgy dancing and Deb doing some rather bad singing but this year no fireworks? Out of respect to the king, fireworks had been banned!

Then it’s time to head off to Chiang Mai to see why everyone raves about it.

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First we stay just outside Chiang Mai for three days to chill out after The New Year and do a bit of reflecting and planning the next part of the adventure. We pick an Airbnb called Monkey House. We are met at the airport and whisked off to the country side. We open our door to an amazing room. The biggest bath we have ever had. How Deb has been missing a lovely bubbly bath and the bed so soft and comfortable we sleep really well.

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This was better than most of the 5 star places we had stayed in the past. The owner of The Monkey House was born in the year of the monkey hence the name and also had a business club for the locals called the Monkey Club. He also has an organic farm, surprisingly  this is called Monkey Farm! True local entrepreneur, although he knew nothing about opening a hotel and the marketing, he set to it as he had built a beautiful new home with a dream for his whole family to come live with him but they all had other plans.

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May 2016 they opened the doors to guests. Beautiful place and lovely kind staff.. This place came in over our room budget but we make up for it by staying in a hostel for the preceding nights in the centre of Chiang Mai and it was well worth every penny.

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Whilst here we took a Songthaew (local red bus) up to the famous temple on the hill, Wat Phra That Soi Suthep and got blinded by a huge amount of gold (and sadly, way too many donation boxes!)

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Now it’s sad face time as we have to leave Monkey House and find out what’s in store at the hostel we have booked in Chiang Mai.

Monkey House are such lovely people that they run us into town and drop us off to the hostel.

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The Sabia hostel is located in a quiet spot in town and the ensuite room is much bigger than expected for only £10.00 each. The tip to get the best rate in Asia is to look it up on the big hotel booking web sites and then go direct. We on average seemed to be able to save between 20% to 30% by doing this.
Time to do a super wash of clothes and turn our room into a chinese laundry. Last time we used a local laundry and they obviously thought that because we were British that we liked cheddar cheese as all the clothes came back smelling rather cheesy. Yuk.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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