Indochina Day 7-8: Sleepy town of Chiang Rai

Day 7 of my Indochina trip was spent on traveling from Siem Reap to Bangkok. I used the service of Giant Ibis again because I found them very efficient in handling the cross-country border aspect of the ride. 


The whole ride took us around 8 hours. Also we did not have to change rides in the border. I have read some blogs saying that they switched buses when they arrived at the border. I arrived in Bangkok at around 4 in the afternoon and proceeded to I-sleep Silom Hostel to get some rest.


Day 8:

I woke up very early to catch my flight to Chiang Rai. I was able to book a very cheap flight from Don Mueang International Airport to Chiang Rai via Thai Lion Air. 


When I arrived in Chiang Rai, I immediately felt the difference in temperature. Being at a higher altitude than Bangkok, Chiang Rai has a noticeably lower ambient temperature.


I booked a taxi going to my hotel because I did not see any buses around. During the ride, I noticed that there were not many locals or tourists in the area. It surprised me because I thought Chiang Rai was  a popular destination for backpackers. I booked a room at Na-Rak-O Resort, which is local family-owned accommodation.


I met the owner of the hotel that morning and I booked my ride through her for my tour the next day. The hotel had unlimited espresso coffee, bread and bananas and I made sure I fully enjoyed those freebies.


The owner pointed me to a shop where I could rent a bicycle for a day. I biked around the town and went to Wat Rong Khun. It was 14 km from the town and I did it under the intense heat of the sun.


Wat Rong Khun, also known as The White Temple, is one of the largest art installations in the town. It was built in the style of a contemporary Buddhist temple and has become a very popular selfie backdrop for tourists.


It has three parts, namely the bridge of the cycle of rebirth, the gate of heaven, and the ubusot. 


The symbolism behind this structure is that human nature is wicked and the only way to happiness is by overcoming wordly things such as temptations, greed and desire.


Upon exiting the temple, I saw this golden building which turns out to be the most beautiful restroom that you will ever see. The building symbolizes the body in direct contrast with the ubusot or white temple which symbolizes the mind. The golden color represents the wordly possessions we humans strive hard to get.


Before I proceeded to my next stop, I bought a drink to refresh myself while I enjoyed this view.


I biked for another 9 km to reach Singha Park. There is a dedicated biking trail, which I tried to completely traverse, but failed. 


At this point I started to feel exhausted, but that did not stop me from enjoying the view. I kept biking and taking pictures/selfies before I decided to start the return bike ride home.


On my way home I stopped by this huge Singha statue in the middle of a field. I took some selfies again because, as a millenial, that is what I do. 


Across the park there were shops and I decided to take a break, talk to the locals, and relax my legs.


A storeowner had some stories about Pinoys working in Doha. He could not speak much English but a neighbor translated for him. Somehow, I got the feeling that he felt appreciative talking to foreigners (even to the one whose looks could pass for a Thai – ME). I reckoned that they do not get many tourists here in Chiang Rai. It is a sleepy town, after all. There were adequate accommodations and restaurants but it was lacking a certain charm that Thai towns usually have. I later found out that backpackers probably skip this town because there wasn’t much nightlife!

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