Wednesday, 21 May 2014

17th April Chiang Rai, north Thailand and Myanmar highlights

17th April 
Weather 36 plus degrees and humid 
exchange rate: 54 Thai bart  to   £1Daily budget £50 ( A struggle to keep to keep to if paying for visas and long travel)

Hours of travelling: 
17th April
Chiang Mai, north Thailand  and Chiang Ria    day tour    8 hrs  

24th April      
Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai    Morning  bus                          3 hrs
Chiang Mai to Bangkok     night sleeper train with fan     15 hrs                         
25th April
A quick walking tour around Bangkok                               6 hrs 
Bangkok to Chumphon  night sleeper train with A/C       16 hrs

26th April 
Chumphon train station  to Koh Tao island bus and boat   3 hrs 



North Thailand, Chiang Rai
 We decided to take a bus tour and visit local sights on the way up from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.

                                           The White Temple 
 Welcome to the wacky world of the new modern temple built in 1970 s but still being painted inside.
 It was very beautiful, but also bizarre.  it was pure white with little mirrors everywhere to make it shimmer set in gardens with hanging little gods heads on the trees. You pass over the the gates of hell with grasping hands and hellish heads reaching for you, past the guards guarding the gates of heaven and who will only let good people in, you then enter a inner hall where the weird becomes the bizarre, the room is painted with modern day cartoons, such as the marvel characters and Disney. All modern day celebrities and popular films and horror.  I can remember seeing Michael Jackson, Indiana Jones, Simpsons, Star Wars. Top Thai artists have been used to paint the room....  bizarre
,
                             

 check out the grasping hands of the dead and beware 

but if you follow the good path this will be your reward..Nirvana                        


 We believe this is what bit Andy on the foot in the Mekong Delta ;-)






We visited the golden triangle in the north of Thailand, Which did not really impress on us its notorious name .We found fascinating religious statues,  lots of Chinese tourists, load-speakers telling us about how to snake handling and boat trips along the Mekong river.
The Mekong river where the three countries meet.







From there we visited a couple of Northern villages, one was the Karen tribes from Myanmar (Burma) with their beautiful coloured traditional dress and highly decorated items for sale.  They lived along side another group of tribal people the long necks in basic villages with houses made from bamboo, banana/ coconut  leaves.  

The long neck tribe also originally from Myanmar live in Thailand because of political and cultural problems in their country. There are now little or no long neck tribes that still use the coiled necklaces now in Myanmar, so they choose to stay in Thailand on the fringe of society. They are not really allowed to visit local cities unless the cover their necks and legs and have few rights in Thailand.
The 300 bart  we paid is given straight to the villagers and help with medical and schooling costs. They weave and sell scarf's a s well.
I personally get the feeing they continue to use the traditional coils here in some part because it attracts tourism! who wouldn't if it bought in money for the village.  but it would be unfair to just blame tourism without understanding their beliefs and customs.. What I did find was that the coils traditionally are not used till girls are five yrs old and then they are taken of at night. ( once worn to a certain age, they stay on permanently)  Yet I saw 2/3 year old's wearing them!
The adult copper coils are really heavy, I was surprised they could wear this weight all the time, The women are highly decorated and beautifully turned out wearing make up It was an pleasant experience meeting both tribes,  Alisha and seb enjoyed visiting them and talking to the children.







We found a hotel in Chiang Rai which was lovely, top quality and included breakfast for 750 Thai bart. 
After a few days relaxing we took the bus up to the Myanmar (Burma ) Border to renew our Thai visa.
Crossing the bridge between Thailand and Myanmar




Asian travel  





 Once across the border we wondered around an the impressive market of Talichek, We saw a significant change in culture and living standard. Such as men now wore tradition Burmese skirts there were more Indian population  present. The town was less maintained than a Thailand or even Vietnam average town and lifestyle is poorer for locals, (due to long time suppressive internal political problems). Yet every one seemed busy and productive
The roads are dusty to walk around and the buildings, sewer/ drain system were in massive need of repair. And worse was the was rubbish/plastic littered everywhere. 
Yet  the country offered me a glimpse of an amazing travel experience. The temples were well maintained and colourful, we saw quite a few monks in the area and there was an amazing 30 meter high golden Buddha sitting on the hillside above the town. The main road wound out of the town and headed up into steep valleys covered in green jungle.  It looked very mountainous.
A glimpse of Myanmar


Jewellery shop
rubbish collection 

local shops




sweet shop




We would have liked to travel it now, but it meant returning to Bangkok to get a visa, then a two day bus trip to Rangoon which we didn't fancy doing, or fly which was more than our budget could afford.

 The green and mountainous region we glimpsed from the town,  made us want to escape, so we hired a rickety tuk tuk and headed out of town. But we didn't get far, a police officer told the driver to turn around ( you need a full visa outside of Talichek) so we sat for a hour on the river drank a beer and watched the world go by. It was very peaceful, the kids paddled and we chatted to some locals and the tuk tuk driver.

All you had to do was you ignored the bits of rubbish floating down the river, One guy next to us casually tipped his lunch and what it was held in, into the river and sent it to suppose able to Thailand (The river finished there) for disposal !


You could see it was a beautiful area very green,  and it was a local holiday spot, with food stalls to sit and eat at.
A quick breakdown....... First we saw local people swimming then washing them selves, some had inflatable rubber tubes for fun. Then a motorbike was driven in and the owner washed it the river, than a truck drove in, ladies  got out and emptied their clothes into the river. They began scrubbing them on the rocks, while their kids played and washed themselves surprisingly in the same area the truck was to being cleaned!
Further down the river we saw fishermen with nets.
I wonder if they caught the lunch box!

Life definitely happened on the river.

After an hour we headed back into Talichek for lunch, which was surprisingly hard to find,  all we wanted was somewhere to sit down with a/c.

Vowing to return to Myanmar some day. We headed back into Thailand and took the local bus back to Chiang Rai.
fishermen 
                               

very helpful people .....the motorbike helped clean the truck.
A time for washing and playing....   

Home time  
Bye for Now xx








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