Next stop – going to spend a few days in Chiang Rai, mainly to check out the White Temple and relax… even more. Chiang Rai will also be the gateway to my next destination – another first, Burma or Myanmar. Yay!
Where am I staying?
Diamond Park Inn Hotel, literally 5 minute walk to the night market. Excellent location and there was even a nice pool.
The room was nice and spacious, with the beds on a raised platform. Highly inconvenient as it meant clambering up and down every time you wanted something from the bed or left anything there.
- Grubbiness factor: low. The room was really clean, what I didn’t like was the AC (desperately needed) which had a damp smell. Not nice.
- Bed: 6/10. Mainly because of that ledge, the pillows were lovely though.
- Shower: 8/10. Nice and powerful. Lots of toiletries – decent ones at that too.
What did I eat?
The hotel breakfasts were the best so far (I’m in Thailand after all, they’ve being doing this tourist thing for long enough and it shows). Massive buffet spread with loads of food.
I had some lovely supersweet pineapple and watermelon, followed by some veggies, rice, carrot and beetroot. Yes. For breakfast. And I would do it again. SO delicious. Next day? More or less the same, but I finally found a soya yoghurt in the.. wait for it.. local Tesco.. known here as Tesco Lotus. Delicious! Oh, and a green tea bag I found in my backpack from the plane.
Lunches were at Cabbages and Condoms, an NGO set up to support family planning in Thailand, with all proceeds going to the cause.
One day I had the papaya salad – EXCELLENT, and another time I had the Tom Yum Hed. MORE EXCELLENT. I love love love Thai food. Nice to have good food again… This stuff was perfectly balanced – sweet, sour, salty, hot – all boxes had a big fat tick. Yumyumyum. Tipple of choice – a lime soda. This soda water is particularly bubbly, making it a really refreshing drink in this heat! And it is hot here (sorry London, muhahaha).
Dinners? In the night market. There was a stage set up with singers and cabaret performances (read: ladyboys).
The food was, well, again, EXCELLENT. I went for a Thai Green Curry (known as Green Curry in these parts 😆) and oh my word. Creamy, hot, flavourful – superb. The other night I went for a simple dish of stir fried veggies – even that was excellently done.
What did I do?
The White Temple is the must see attraction – just outside of Chiang Rai, on the way from Chiang Mai. Now. I usually don’t read up reviews or research most of the main attractions in a town as I feel it might be hyped up and then I expect too much.
WELL. I’m going to hype this up. This temple is awesome. After seeing loads of red and gold temples in Laos, here is this white and silver temple. So impressive from the outside, and it seemingly looks like every other temple… until you step closer, and see the robot king.. or the depiction of hell and heaven (see all those hands reaching out for you? Hell). Fascinating.
Sadly you’re not allowed to take photos in the main temple. But I will say this much – completely expect the unexpected. The walls are covered with the most amazing murals, featuring not only the Buddha, but also Marvel and DC Comic heroes (yes, you read right), to cartoon characters and political figures. It is such an impressive space!
There is also a small gallery and a larger exhibition featuring the works of the genius behind this temple. I LOVED both. His artwork is so insightful and expressive, absolutely loved it. And there is shop at the end. Due to space, ongoing travel and fear of flattening issues, I only bought a few magnets, postcards and a small poster. BELIEVE THE HYPE! Go here!!
What else did I do? Natural hot springs – one for boiling eggs (98 degrees C) and one for boiling feet (much cooler, thankfully). So dipping my feet into hot water in hot weather was actually a very soothing experience. Really enjoyable – another recommend, but only if you’re passing by.
Obviously I went for more massages. I didn’t think I could have a bad massage in Thailand – but now I know you can. Avoid this place.
I went there for a foot massage, which turned out to be one hour of a girl massaging the same spots on either side of my legs. Shockingly bad. Thankfully redeemed by a SUPER Thai massage here – monmueng lana massage. My masseuse was an effeminate young lad – super tall and super skinny and super strong. I was howling in pain at the time, but I felt super great afterwards! Go massages!
I also checked out the night market – same same but different and I’m waning a bit to be honest. It is all the same – nothing stands out so will patiently wait until I like something.
So Chiang Rai really surprised me. I was expecting it to be a boring place, but I enjoyed my time there. They even have a cat cafe (shudder), but each one to their own I suppose.
Bye Bye Chiang Rai!