Monday, 17th March 2008
Still sleepy, we got down at a temple in Tha Ton. We visited the Kuan Yin temple overlooking Myanmar facing towards China. Mae Kok river separated part of Chiang Mai and part of Myanmar. Dave said, during war, they could hear canon balls firing over the mountains. It’s that near.
We then took a boat ride on a long tail boat along Mae Kok river. Before getting on the boat, Dave already cautioned that gentlemen may have to get off the boat half way to push the boat in the event that it may get stuck in shallow waters. True enough. The boat got stranded twice in the sand. When Dave gestured the guys to get off the boat, my cousin sister aka Gas Stove, was the first person to jump into the river gleefully. Gentlemen, huh?
It was a fun experience. Laughter and chuckles echoed through the shallow river to the land. We felt like pirates for the day! Being the clumsy one, I chose to stay put in the boat, hence contributing to more dead weight to the boat as the rest huffed and puffed to push the boat.
I was intrigued by sceneries of people bathing in the river, kids splashing water at each other, women washing clothes by the river side, men doing their every day chore of netting fish and young monks playing football in the river, overlooking a temple as the backdrop. I wish I have a damn good camera there and then for this Kodak moment. They never fail to show their act of kindness and warmth by waving at us whenever we went by them.
After getting off the boat, we made our way to the Akha and Long Neck Village. It’s an overly commercialized place. It seems, this place actually do not exist. There was this fella who went to Myanmar to pick up the long neck village tribe to Chiang Mai and made money out of them. I shared the same sentiment with Alex. We felt as if these people are exploited – it’s like visiting a zoo. I didn’t take many pictures and all of us ended up buying some souvenirs from almost every shop to help these people. The girls here love make up. So if you have too much make up kit, you may give them away as souvenirs.
Next stop was Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Saen. This would probably be the oldest temple in Chiang Mai. It was simple and fuss free. There weren’t many visitors when we reached this place. The bayan tree is as old as 750 years old! This temple like most of the temples in Chiang Mai are Lanna styled. It can be seen by the many layers of stupa. Seriously, if you ask me, most temples in Thailand look the same to me!
Towards the end of the visit, everyone was hungry. Heck. We are always hungry that Dave labeled us as Ethiopian children. We happily made our journey to Chiang Saen for a pancake treat. I guess this would be the highlight of the trip besides the jumping off the long tail boat at Mae Kok to dislodge the boat off the sand. The eight of us gathered around this stall to eat the delicious pan cakes but not before we went for food hunting for our supper that night. It was like roti tissue rolled up like a spring roll. We had three pieces each.
As we were munching greedily on the pan cake, the national anthem was played in a school opposite us. I was very surprised that everyone stood still to show respect to the national anthem. Even cyclists and motorbikers stopped by the road side to stand up straight to show respect. I suddenly developed a new level of profound respect for the Thais. Small gestures like these surely construe as high patriotism among the Thais of their love for the country.
Dave helped us to arrange for dinner nearby Baan Yu Pen Sook – a small cottage villa in some deserted kampung where we would put up a night at Chiang Rai. Knowing us as the perpetually hungry lot, he ordered about 7-8 dishes for us to try. The happening tom yum, some fried meat, green curry, stir fried kangkung, stir fried meat with vegetables, phad thai, etc. The cook took about 30 minutes to prepare the dinner for us and we shoved down the food down our throats the entire dinner in less than 10 minutes. She must be pretty shocked. The wonderful dinner only cost us 650+ baht!
The moment we reached Baan Yu Pen Sook for a night cap, it began to pour like cats and dogs. What a perfect timing! We very much welcomed the rain as it was pretty hazy in Chiang Mai.
After refreshing ourselves, taking bath and resting, the heavy rain began to trickle slowly into drizzles. We went to the small pantry near the office to have supper – the food we managed to get at the market earlier and chatted briefly. We called it a night and looked forward to another fun-filled day.