Friday, August 22, 2008

Chiang Saen, Thailand

Yesterday I woke up in a village town called Pakbeng located on the Mekong river in Laos. After a three hour speedboat ride north I arrived in the Laos/Thailand border town of Huayxay where I had to take a ferry across the river and enter Thailand. As the day was trailing into late afternoon most buses from the Thai border town, Chiang Khong, were already gone, but there was one heading to Chiang Rai. I had heard of Chiang Rai and knew it was about half-way to Chiang Mai (my next destination where I would meet my friend in two days) so I decided to jump on the bus.

In Chiang Mai I was surprised to see a few 7-11s in town and HBO on the guesthouse lobby television, two things I saw nowhere in Laos. The night was a relaxing one, but after reading up about Chiang Rai it didn't seem like there was much to do other than visit some temples or go to the night market, something I have done numerous places throughout Asia. When I woke this morning I decided I have one day left before meeting up with my friend and if I wanted to do anything new I would need to leave Chiang Rai. I packed my bags and went to the bus station, not sure where I would go. I saw a bus to Chiang Saen, a town just next to the Golden Triangle in Northern Thailand. The Golden Triangle is on the Mekong River where Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand meet. The place sounded interesting so I planned to go for the day. When I arrived I walked around the streets trying to find a place to stay but nobody spoke English. Finally I found a guesthouse on the Mekong River that charges a little under 5 USD a night (expensive compared to the 1-3 USD places I have been staying for the past week). I rented a bike and cruised around town for a bit and headed down to the Golden Triangle which is about 8KM away. I read in the traveler's book on Thailand that in Chiang Saen one should allow half a day to visit the sites and then plan a few hours to go to the Golden Triangle. That estimate must have been if one was planning on walking slowly. It is now 3 o'clock, just 3 hours after stepping off the bus. I probably spent half an hour to an hour finding a guest house and the bike shop and then rode around on the bike for a little while. I have already seen all the places the lady at the bike shop pointed out to me on a map.

I might head to Chiang Mai if my laundry gets done soon and I can find a bus heading that direction. If not I'll just kick it here for the night. I'll write more on my whole trip later and put up the many many pictures I have taken, just wanted to post something while I had the time. Lata'!

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