I got picked up at 7.30am by the tour company in a mini van then after driving for an hour we arrived at the hot springs. Since I live by the hot spring in khaochaison this wasnt that exciting for me, but least it broke down the journey. We drove for another hour and half until we were in Chiang Rai, and visited the White Temple, whose correct name is Wat Rong Khun. I got talking to 2 girls from Hong Kong who were in the same minivan and we went round together taking photos. It was really beautiful, and even the koi carp in the river were white and matching too. To get to the actual temple, which represents paradise you have to walk through ‘hell’ first, which shows lots of hands and skulls as you cross the bridge to it. Its a one way system to enter the temple as its so busy with visitors, and inside they are still painting it. On one side the decorations were typical of a temple but on the other side there were paintings of the twin towers, of superman, doremon, and lots of cartoon characters, which was odd. Another interest in the temple was a building all painted gold, which was in fact toilets. The nicest toilets around!
We then got back in the bus and drove another 2 hours to the Golden Triangle, which is where the river separates Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. We climbed into long thin woden boats and the cruise took us along the river and stops in Myanmar and Laos. In Laos there was a market selling local gifts. One of the wierdest gifts was a bottle of whisky with a snake inside. A chinese man helped me take photos with the Laos signs, and I took some of him too. On the boat back to Thailand I got speaking to an Australian couple from Adelaide who were on the same tour but different bus, and I bumped into them at all the next stops too.
Half hour later we arrived at a buffet lunch, then continued another half hour to the Northern most point of Thailand, where there’s a bridge to cross to be let into Myanmar and a market area. We stopped for half an hour so some people could do visa runs and others could go shopping.
Another hour drive and we met the Karen tribe. These are people originally from Myanmar that fled to live in Thailand where they are more welcome. They have long necks because they have metal coils stretching and holding their necks up. Its only the women that do it, so even the little girls have started! They live a simple life in the mountains making gifts and scarfs to sell to tourists as income. The ride back to Chiang Mai was 3 and half hours, and on the way I got talking to a South African couple who live in Dubai and ended up discussing world cultures and the whole bus joined in, which made the journey go a lot quicker!