Nell and I opted for the overnight train for the first part our our trek - unfortunately, due to the busy travel weekend, we were left with only seats instead of sleeper cars. We were prepared to sit up and sleep for the night, but we were not prepared for the -12 degree temperature inside the railway car - I have not been that cold since February 2010 in Boston - and I never want to be that cold again! I spent the night sneezing and layering up with the clothes I had and was extremely grateful to step off the train into Thailand's usual heat and humidity when we arrived early on Friday morning.
Friday we soaked up everything we love about Chiang Mai: coffee shops, farang friendly hair salons, khao soy, bookstores with English books, and amazing market shopping. We stayed at a cute and very cheap hostel called Little Bird and had a very relaxing day. The next morning we left early for a 3 hour bus ride - VIP style - to Chiang Rai. We had done no research on Chiang Rai but we knew we wanted to see what is known as "the white temple." We picked out the first hostel mentioned in our trusty Lonely Planet guides and dropped off our stuff before hitting the streets to explore and do a little shopping.
Wat Rong Khun, via tuk-tuk and it was a stunning sight. It's definitely one of my favorite places in Thailand so far. In the past 10 months I have seen hundreds of wats, and for the most part they are same same, but different... until I got to Wat Rong Khun. It is a gorgeous work of modern art, all white (representing Buddha's purity), and the interior has murals of modern images such as Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, the Twin Towers, Spiderman and Transformers. It was started in 1997 and they are still adding finishing touches to various buildings around the main temple.
Sunday Walking Market. I bought everything in sight. I have no idea how I will transport all of these souvenirs I keep picking up back to America but I think I'll have a very cute, very Asian inspired apartment one of these days! Our journey back should have been an easy overnight bus and then a minivan ride to Suphan to make it just in time for Monday morning classes... but that would be too easy, and this is Thailand.
|The bus driver literally taking|
apart the bus in an attempt
to fix it.