A flat tire, rain, and winding roads made our trip into Chiang Rai a bit longer, and our arrival a bit later, than we’d planned. None the less we finally found our new home for the week at the base of a tea plantation in the back of a tiny neighborhood. We should have guessed when we stopped at the local shop on our way into town, and were offered a whiskey shot and fried bugs, our stay in Chiang Rai would be anything but ordinary. Our hosts were kind enough to help us unload our wet luggage and prepare us a hot dinner. Since we hadn’t had a hot shower in a week, we all relished the opportunity to get clean, warm, fed and into bed.
When we woke the next morning we realized our homestay was a work of art. Our bungalow had views of a beautiful lotus pond and a neighboring tea plantation. Every corner of the grounds had been carefully decorated. Our home was also home to roosters, hens and teensy baby chicks, as well as cats, fire flies and a range of interesting geckos. The restaurant area overlooked rice fields and a pond full of giant koi and cat fish. Every night Oil lit the entire property in tiny torches and twinkle lights. It was such a treat just to relax and enjoy the beauty of it all.
The kids were pretty toured-out so Michael and I headed out for a day of sightseeing on our own. We hiked through a bamboo forest to a nearby waterfall. With New Years behind us, most of the tourists had gone and we got to enjoy the sight with very few other people around.
No trip to Chiang Rai would be complete without a visit to the famous White Temple. It’s the most iconic monument in Chiang Rai and I would add the strangest as well. The intricate white design of the temple is adorned with silver tin decorations making it glisten in the sun. Although it’s white and gold facades lead you to think of all that is good and pure, the structures leading up toand around the temple are ghoulish and quite terrifying! There are beautiful golden buildings on the grounds and also shrines to whisky bottles and trees with horror film heads hanging down. I don’t know what I expected to find there, but this was definitely not it!
The rest of our time in Chiang Rai was spent relaxing. It rained some, which was still beautiful, and we enjoyed the peace and quiet of being outside the city. Charlotte and I got to enjoy a sunrise over the tea plantation and the kids worked on catching up in school. I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the giant geckos running through the walls all night or the roosters crowing at the rising sun. I will however enjoy a quiet night sleep one of these days!