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Chiang Mai 2012 Day 5: Long Way Back to CM

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, go here.

Day 5! We’re halfway through our vacation, today we are going to the Golden triangle in the morning the laterdriving the long way down from Maesai back down to Chiang Mai via Chiang Rai. This journey of 200km should take about 3 or 4 hours, but we’ve lined up some interesting stops along the way.

First thing to do after packing up our stuff in the hotel is to have a good breakfast. There are lots of good street food in Maesai and Chiang Mai available for breakfast around our hotel, but we always opt for rooms with complimentary brekkie. Its always cheaper and far more convenient, not to mention a time saver especially if you are in a large group.

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From Maesai to the Golden Triangle is a short drive. We arrived really early, before 9am, long before the tourists. This is the floating jetty down to the river cruise. If you are in a small group, you will get a narrow longtail boat, which would mean getting wet. But since we were a large group, we got a large (more stable) boat all to ourselves for RM150.

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The narrow boats are the ones for small groups.

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The Golden Triangle is where this river (Mekong or Mae) divides the 3countries of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. China is also visible from here, a mere 2 hours drive to the north. Vietnam is a little further East. Some the Golden Triangle is sometimes called the meeting point of 5 countries.

The boat made a stop in the Laos side of the river for a short visit. This is a special zone so no passports are required. But a small fee is required, but since our tour guide knows the Laotian official (!), the trip was free.

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This special zone has hilltribe villagers selling handicrafts and cheap China knockoff products. The most interesting stuff on sale here is the cobra whiskey. My God, this stuff is potent, i can smell it 10 feet away. They even put scorpions in for added potency. Not something you see in Malaysian Chinese weddings.

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Other than that, you can browse the many stalls here.

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Fancy a genuine looking Gucci or Prada handbag? Very cheap, miss.

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Back on land in thailand theres a small hill next to a 1000 year old temple where you get a good vantage point of the river and the triangle.

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Memories of my form 5 Geography lessons.

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Lunch today was an excellent buffet restaurant serving Myanmarese food. They have less spices than Thai cooking, but good nonetheless. Another example of Calvin’s excellent recommendations.

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Then we start the journey down to Chiang Mai. We didn’t stop by Chiang Rai even though its quite a large town, and the hub in this area. But we did stop by this hot water spring just outside the town. This is well known to locals only, and immensely popular.

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Thar she blows!

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Late afternoon we reach the small town of Doi Saket, in outskirts of Chiang Mai. Calvin makes a stop at his home to check his mail. Postal, not electronic. His house is in a really nice place surrounded by secondary jungle. A nice bungalow, big enough for his two dogs. All for RM500 a month.

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There’s a kindergarten run by Methodist missionaries next door.

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There are two very nice resorts near his house in Doi Saket. This one is REALLY nice, called Jasmine Hills Lodge, run by a Malaysian couple. For about RM400 a night, you can stay in one of few bungalows like this.

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My question was: How come WE’RE not staying here?!

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Nice sunset as we were about to leave. The other resort is on the main road back to CM, called Horizon Village & Resort.

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This is a more established an upmarket resort, complete with wedding banquet hall and 3 different resort concepts. Suitable for church camps and seminars but less privacy.

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Night was falling and we completed the short drive to Chiang Mai, thus ending a long journey today. Dinner was at some roadside stalls just outside the old walled city. Jeremy loves his chicken rice, and has been deprived of it the past 4 days here in Thailand. The chicken rice available here isn’t as refined as in Malaysia, but my BIL knows of this particular stall here that does decent chicken rice. This is the stall manned by the lady with the cowboy hat.

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Calvin had his favourite te kar. There are two stalls here serving this, this is a really popular dish.

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Jeremy’s much vaunted chicken rice. Its actually pretty good.

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Its pad thai for me, of course. This stall serves it differently, wrapping the noodles like our nasi pattaya. It proved popular, another stall here followed suit.

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After a good dinner, we checked into our hotel, CH Hotel, for the first of our 3 nights here. It was a poor experience staying in CH, but more on that tomorrow. I was exhausted after a full day, i crashed after a bath while some of the others walked a bit of the Night Market (it started raining half an hour later).

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So after 5 days, we’re back in Chiang Mai, for a different sort of holiday. But it proved to be equally exciting and enjoyable, although in a different sort of way…

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