Wednesday........went a long way

Golden Triangle Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 15 › view all entries
It was up at sparrow-fa......errr......call this morning to make our trip to Chiang Rei and the Golden Triangle at Mai Sei.
We arose at 5.30am so that we could have breakfast before our long trip.....but, found nothing  open for service before 8am. So we were left with no other option than to start our journey hungry. We had gone about an hour North when our driver Nui pulled into a service station and told us it was our toilet break. Yaaay!! Right in front of us was a Black Canyon Coffee Shop and some stalls of local produce. We all hit the loos, and then proceeded in separate directions - Leanne to find coffee, me to look at the market stalls, and Nui to get fuel and answer mobile calls. Leanne brought back coffeeeeeee, and some surprises, I bought bananas and apples!! (first time I'd seen apples anywhere in Thailand since I'd left home, and being on a road trip I craved them - we always have apples on road trips at home!), and Nui , fuel. Kiara just went with the flow by sleeping.
The coffee was a welcome delight, and the surprises even more so. No idea what they were, but yummy! Kiara had an apple when she woke, and Nui drove.
After driving for ages through mountains and winding roads wending their way through verdant valleys and hills, with us napping along the way, except Kiara, who slept solidly from the time she finished her apple, we arrived at the Queen's Summer Palace and gardens. It was lovely to leave the car and walk in the fresh air through beautiful gardens filled with lush tropical plants and flowers. Whilst in the gardens we discovered a little take-away shop and snacked on steamed pork parcels and bottles of water & green tea in a lovely gazebo pointed out to us by one of the workers. We then proceded to visit the summer Palace but found that it was closed between 11.30 - 12.30 for housekeeping. While we waited for it to re-open we wandered around the souvenir and gift shops, and bought some carrot chips and other munchies for later. When we got to the sentry/entry gates we were assessed for suitable attire and found lacking. Leanne would have to put on an entire new outfit, provided by the sentries, and I, just the pants. Kiara was the only one dressed appropriately. We found it a bit contradictoory, as skirts to the knee were acceptable but not pants to the knees! What a fashion statement we made!!
It was quite an uphill trek to get there, but once there, was a beautiful place to visit. The Palace is made almost entirely of Thai Teak - floor boards, logs on exterior, etc. The internal decorations are to be envied. The ceiling of the central hall is comprised of wood carvings and lighting depicting the astrological signs in both western and eastern culture. Absolutely stunning. One entire wall is decorated with Thai silk embroidered 'wallpaper' with a floral design in a most tasteful way. Another wall on the staircase is decorated with wood carvings of the Thai alphabet and corresponding pictures to depict each letter. The stair balustrading is decorated with Thai numbers, and another wall with English alphabet - all for the Royal children and their friends. The exterior balconies overlook the valley and mountains, and the beautiful gardens surrounding the palace.
We rather rushed back down the hill, dying for the loo. We divested ourselves, with relief and laughter, of our new fashion statement when we arrived back at the gates. We then hurriedly sought out the toilet, as the coffee we had drunk earlier was having a decided effect on our bladders. 3baht for a pee, but worth every baht!!!  Pee baht, we joked to ourselves.

On our way to the Golden Triangle Nui dropped us at a local market in Chiang Rei, telling us we only had 20minutes. Well, 20 minutes was all we really needed, and we were conscious ofthe fact that Kiara was asleep i n the back of the tax . The markets were rather tacky with with mass-produced items like sunglasses, toys, etc. There was some food produce that we found rather interesting to look through. We did buy some towels cheaply for our anticipated visit and 'swim' at the Hot Springs.

We headed then for Mai Sei and the Golden Triangle - borders of Thailand, Myanmar(Burma) and Laos, and the area famous for Opium Trade in the last few centuries. Before we got to the borders, Nui droppd us at the Opium Museum. Kiara slept in the car, with Nui babysitting. The Museum is very informative in an interactive way. The displays and whole set-up is very, very sophisticated and modern, and spacious. Well worth a look on any agenda.
With Kiara still asleep when Leanne and I arrived back at the car (I must admit to rushing through the Museum a bit, in case she was awake and freaked out about being left in the car with Nui) we headed for the Border triangle and Golden Buddha situated there. I had to wake Kiara by asking her if she wanted to see the Buddha, even in her asleep state she nodded the affirmative. We left the car and wandered along the Maekong waterfront, in awe of just how big the river is, to the Buddha and all the tacky frippery surrounding it. What a pity it's so commercialised. I took the opportunity to look at some of the saris decorated in traditional patterns and barter with the locals, but I didn't buy.
We left looking for an eatery or food stalls as we were hungry now. We found a quaint little cafe with all sorts of local, and not so local, handicrafts for sale as well as food and drinks. Leanne and I decided that, as we were in Thailand we'd have a cocktail with a Thai name - Mai Tai....with our lunch. It packed quite a punch and we both slept in the car as we made our way back to Chaing Mai. We were hoping to have a paddle in the Hot Springs, but with lots of tropical rain slowing us and impending darkness we soon realised that wasn't going to happen. We did stop, after dark, and look at the Fang hot springs or rather geysers at Ban Ping - the highest in Thailand.

We arrived home sometime around 10pm, some 15 hours after we left this morning. After getting Kiara to bed, I went down the lane and had a much needed massage. Leanne is there now having hers, while I write up notes of the day's events.

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Golden Triangle
photo by: dutch_duke