25 Feb - 26 Feb 2010 Chiang Rai

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Singhakhlai Road 126
Mae Hong Son Guest House +6653715367 karencountryside@hotmail.com 
Basic and clean double room with wifi for only THB 170.- or US$ 5.15 per night.


Click below for an interactive road map of the Mae Hong Son Guest House in Chiang Rai, which we would recommend, and for directions:









Strolling through the town centre of laid-back Chiang Rai, the “Gateway to the Golden Triangle”, ignoring the mind-altering temptations of opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) and exploring instead the mind-boggling diversity of vegetarian rice-and-noodle food stalls on the town's lively night market (a somewhat smaller version of the more famous and much larger night market in Chiang Mai).

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” 



Taking (i) a săwngthăew (literally “two rows”, a small pick-up truck aka bakkie with two rows of bench seats down both sides of the truck bed) from our guest house to Chiang Rai’s Bus Terminal 2 aka the “new bus station” for THB 20.- per person, (ii) thereafter the overstaffed 2nd-class Win Tour bus (one driver and five bus stewards who stand in each other’s way) for THB 249.- or US$ 7.60 per person for the 450-km long trip from Chiang Rai to Sukhothai, and (iii) eventually another săwngthăew from Sukhothai’s bus terminal to our next guest house, the recommended Garden House Lodge +6655611395, for only THB 10.- per person, thus toughing it out against the local taxi mafia who asks for THB 50.- per faràng.



Click below for more blog posts about Asian night markets

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos
Konni & Matt Travel Photos


Facing Thailand
© Konni & Matt
 
"In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view and to be conceptual with a picture. The image may not be literally what's going on, but it's representative."


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24 Feb - 25 Feb 2010 Tha Ton

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Kwan’s Guest House +66819931267
Adequate double room for only THB 200.- or US$ 6.05 per night.


Click below for an interactive road map of Kwan's Guest House in Tha Ton and for directions:










Exploring the small village of Tha Ton, the launching point for river trips to Chiang Rai and little more than a non-descript săwngthăew stand and a collection of river boats, local eateries and shop houses along a pretty bend in the Mae Nam Kok River, climbing up to Wat Tha Ton +6653053609 and joining the ongoing dedication ceremony for the latest extension of this luxuriant Buddhist monastery and drug rehabilitation centre, generously financed by unknown donors, and enjoying breath-taking views over the Shan countryside with its lush opium-poppy fields.

 “Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread.
For he on honey-dew hath fed.
And drunk the milk of paradise."

 
Enjoying the very pleasant and entertaining downriver long-tail boat trip from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai (c. 80 km, 5 hours, THB 350.- or US$ 10.60 per person), thus shooting the rapids and surviving the eddies of the shallow and barely negotiable Mae Nam Kok River, getting stuck a few times on sand bars and rocks and watching friendly villagers from the Lahu, Lisu and Karen hill tribes on both banks of the river.



Click below for more blog posts about pleasant river trips
20 Nov - 06 Dec 2014 Varanasi
04 Jul - 06 Jul 2010 Muang Khoua
16 Jun - 22 Jun 2010 Hoi An
19 Aug - 28 Aug 2009 Similajau
06 Aug - 08 Aug 2009 Song

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2010 Map Konni & Matt

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos
Konni & Matt Travel Photos


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22 Feb - 24 Feb 2010 Chiang Dao

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Pieng Dao Hotel
Rugged and atmospheric double room for THB 300.- or US$ 9.10 per night.


Click below for an interactive road map of the Pieng Dao Hotel in Chiang Dao and for directions:










Visiting Chiang Dao's bustling Tuesday morning market (morning till noon), meeting both Thai and hill-tribe people, the latter in their traditional costumes, who come to buy and sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, home-made bread and cakes, to clothes and on to hardware, and snacking on the incredibly large variety of local delicacies (e.g. crisp Thai crepes aka khanom bueang, tiny coconut griddle cakes aka khanom khrok and sweet black sticky rice with custard aka khao neow dam sang kaya, the perfect but high-calorie Thai breakfast sweet).
“The simple answer as to why we get fat is that carbohydrates make us so; protein and fat do not.”


Hiring a reliable Honda Wave 125-cc underbone bike for THB 350.- or US$ 10.60 per day from Star Café Rental +6653455948, exploring the Lisu/Akha hill-tribe village of Lisu Huay Ko where these ethnic minorities with their own Tibeto-Burman languages, semi-nomadic culture, Tibet-originated history and opium-based economy subsist and watching speechlessly how two obese missionaries from the Church of Messiah throw cheap candy in bulk out of the window of their souped-up 4x4 Toyota Hilux to the begging villagers...



Getting up close and personal with former working elephants at the Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre +6653298553 (admission: THB 60.- per person) and learning that these working elephants, after a three- to five-year childhood, are trained under the guidance of their individual mahouts over a period of five years to push, carry and stack logs, as well to work collaboratively with other elephants and to walk in processions.



Flagging down a regional bus from Chiang Dao to Tha Ton (130 km, 3 1/4 hours, THB 65.- or US$ 1.95 per person in 2nd class) and enjoying the uneventful and scenic bus ride along Highway 107 through gradually rising hills and plains of rice fields.


Click below for more blog posts about interesting Asian fresh-produce markets
22 May - 04 Jun 2013 Seoul
13 Mar - 18 Apr 2013 Bangkok
09 Nov - 14 Nov 2012 Bac Ha
22 May - 24 May 2010 Kompong Chhnang
27 Feb - 05 Mai 2009 Saigon

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos
Konni & Matt Travel Photos


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09 Feb - 22 Feb 2010 Chiang Mai

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Ratchapakhinal Road 178
Safe House Court Guest House +6653418955
Spacious twin room with excellent wifi for THB 300.- or US$ 9.- per night.


Click below for an interactive road map of the Safe House Court in Chiang Mai, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:









Wat-hopping and ticking off Chiang Mai’s superb inner-city Buddhist monastery-temples aka wats, decorated with intricate woodcarvings, protective naga serpent staircases, gilded umbrellas, guardian figures from the tales of the Ramayana and hemispherical stupas (cone-shaped monuments which pay tribute to the enduring stability of Buddhism): (i) Wat Phra Singh which houses the city’s most revered Buddha image, the Phra Singh aka the Lion Buddha, (ii) Wat Chedi Luang with its very large and venerable 1441 CE Lanna-style stupa, (iii) Wat U Mong Klang Wiang with a golden Buddha statue that shows nine different facial expressions under different day-light angles, (iv) Wat Duang Dee with its mysterious scripture repository (designed to keep and protect the delicate mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore), (v) Wat Lam Chang with its plethora of elephant statues, (vi) Wat Chiang Man, the oldest wat in Chiang Mai, and (vii) Wat U Sai Kham where we made a wish for our awesome Germanseffricanchinesecanadian grandsons Raoni and Tien by grandma Konni rubbing her hands over the pot-bellied Buddha's sizeable paunch.

However gnawing a deficiency, satiety is worse... We are meant to be hungry.” 



Exploring Chiang Mai’s rather low-key Chinatown west of Mae Nam Ping aka Ping River (there is hardly an urban northern Thai without one civilised grandparent or two; it’s a safe guess that about one third of the population of Thailand is in fact of ethnic Chinese origin), visiting (i) colourful and timeless Sino-Thai markets like (a) Talat Wararot, the oldest and most famous market in Chiang Mai, and (b) Ton Lamyai, the beautiful riverside flower market with flowers of all descriptions from roses to chrysanthemums, lilies to birds of paradise, all ready to reach their absolute prime, (ii) old and atmospheric Buddhist/Taoist temples, and (iii) traditional and modern Chinese shophouses, and celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year of the Tiger (Thai: Trut Chii) in a festive atmosphere loaded with the sound of gongs, cymbals and drums played throughout the streets and the noise of zillions of fire crackers: (i) spectacular lion-dance performances which symbolise the ceremony to chase off bad luck and usher in prosperity, good luck and fortune, (ii) acrobatic dragon-dance performances which symbolise power, dignity, fertility, wisdom and auspiciousness, and (iii) rather boring motivational speeches from some permanently grinning big shots aka tai-pan - Shin Je Huat Chye!



Enjoying together with our Bavarian friend Martina the small pleasures of life in Chiang Mai, Thailand's second biggest city: (i) feasting on delicious (northern) Thai food such as (a) the pescetarian and vegetarian versions of phàt thai (stir-fried thin rice noodles with dried or fresh shrimps, bean sprouts, fried tofu, egg and seasoning), (b) tofu-based khâo sawy (yellow egg noodles in a curried broth with coconut milk) and (c) never ending variations of Thai salads aka yam, tam and lap (e.g. hot and tangy salads containing a blast of lime, chilli, fresh herbs and a choice of seafood, green papaya and all the rest of it), best prepared in our fave restaurant, the stylish and clean Big Food Restaurant right opposite the main entrance to Wat Chedi Luang, (ii) relaxing our bodies and souls with elaborate Thai massage techniques (e.g. full-body massage for THB 140.- per hour; foot reflexology for THB 120.- per hour; Martina's ayurvedic-related sesame-oil fake-Indian full-body massage for free), (iii) offering my throat (Matt only) to one of the masked and razor-wielding barbers of Siam and having a close shave, (iv) practising daily (Konni only) the tantalising movements of Tai Chi and Qigong for women at Wat Loi Khraw, and (v) flushing it all down with delicious and potent ginseng wine from our no-name drug dealer at an undisclosed location.



Wat-touring the famous Buddhist temples north and west of Chiang Mai: (i) Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with its superb views over the city, (ii) Wat Suan Dok where we patiently avail ourselves in the opportunity to improve our command of English with the help of young and eager Buddhist monks from Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand, and (iii) the tranquil, 700-year old Wat U Mong with its brick-lined tunnels and eerie underground temples.



Taking a túk-túk taxi for THB 40.- or US$ 1.20 from our “safe house” to Chiang Mai’s Chang Pheuak Bus Terminal and thereafter a regional bus to Chiang Dao (72 km, 2 hours, THB 40.- or US$ 1.20 per person).



Click below for more blog posts about lekker Thai food
01 Oct - 20 Oct 2014 Bangkok
13 Mar - 18 Apr 2013 Bangkok
08 Feb - 06 Mar 2012 Bangkok
01 Mar - 01 May 2010 Bangkok
24 Oct - 04 Dec 2008 Khao Pilai

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2010 Map Konni & Matt

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos
Konni & Matt Travel Photos


Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from Germany:


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