|Dec. 15: Chiang Dao: We decided to stay an extra day here, after Laure met a Korean monk, both on their early morning stroll. The monk invited him to a Meditation Retreat Centre just a few kilometers out of town. We rented one, 100cc Honda motorcycle and Laurie and his biker chick drove off into the sunrise. The old song "OHHHH WILDTHING" ringing in our ears! The Meditation Centre had an amazing cave the Buddhist monks use for prayers and meditation. Manita brought us into the cave for talk and prayers. It was a good experience. Further exploration on our mean machine led us to Mallees's Nature Garden and Restaurant. She had lovely quaint cottages and served a delicious lunch. It would be a wonderful place to stay, on our next visit.
Dec. 16: Tha Ton: We are getting quite used to the bus travel and Tha Ton is our last bus expedition thru the mountains. We are happy to report, that it has not been necessary to use the plastic "barf bags" kindly provided in cups hanging from the interior luggage racks. Garden Home Guest House is clean, quiet, friendly, helpful, with lovely gardens and cottages set among the Lychee trees beside the river. This is a very small town but it still has a good morning market that attracts Laurie and the locals for their daily grocery shopping. Laurie enjoys this time to mingle and watch the monks doing their morning alms. There are a lot of Ahka Hill Trible people in town and around our guest house restaurant trying to sell their crafts as well as merchandise they must have to purchased. They are very persistant but friendly and easy to laugh...we quite enjoy the interaction. We rented two motorcycles to explore the country side and the temples on the mountains surrounding the town. You can easily visit Ahka, Lisu, and Yeo Hill Tribe villages near town. We found a wonderful Weaving Centre, where we could chat with the weavers and watch them work on their miracles on old looms. Their work was magnificent! We had a lovely evening sharing adventures with Susanne and Jaron, travellers we had met a couple of weeks ago in Lampang.
Dec. 18: Chiang Rai: The 4 hour boat trip was a nice change from the bus. The Night Market here are terrific...great entertainment, variety of food for every tastebud, good assortment of merchandice and small enough not to be overwhelming. A bigger backpack would be very handy. This city has some lovely temples ... well worth a day. The White Temple looks magnificent!
Dec. 19, 20, 21: Chiang Mai: 4 1/2 hrs of relatively flat and straight terrain with interesting conversation made this journey go quickly. A Phillipino lady, 30 years in Thailand, working for a Canadian Christian Ministry had interesting opinions on Phillipine politics, Thai politics, the Royal Family, the Christian Church and their roll in helping the hilltribes. These are all topics we tend to avoid when travelling but her perspective for the most part was quite positive and interesting. We were good listeners.
Home for a few days is CM Blue House, exceptionally clean, friendly, helpful and centrally located in the Old City. A little change of pace for us, we took in a Cabaret Show "Simon of Chiang Mai". It was good entertainment. The mostly Thai music was delightful, the costumes were Vegas style quality, set designs were great and the entertainers were gorgeous. Between the Night Markets and our small library of books purchased for Ko Chang, we need another bag before catching the night train to Bangkok.