Chiang Rai & area...end of Thailand for now!

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Jul 22, 2008

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Friday, March 14, 2008

I aboot to leave Thailand as I'm in Chiang Khong, on the border of Laos. Just have to catch a boat apparently to cross the river and then i'm in Laos...yeehaw! Will be making my way back to southern Thailand though, the islands, in a few weeks..after i make my way through Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

I spent a couple days in Chiang Rai...had a lovely day yesterday as I embarked on my own personal tour. I rented a motorbike again for the day and scooted around to different town and villages and enjoyed it very much. Think i enjoy driving a wee motorbike just a bit too much, could be cuz i haven't driven much lately at all. Did you know that you don't even need a driving licence either to rent a motorbike? No need to fret none though as i do indeed have one...haha! I scooted myself all the way to Mae Salong, aboot 70kms from Chiang Rai, a lovely town atop a mountain with great views. My main goal was to submerse myself into the culture more (way too many tourists in the cities) and find some tribal villages that aren't overrun by tourists. I found this '3 tribe village' as it was called and just followed the dirt road up and around and found myself in a very small village with only a few houses, a few locals just sitting around staring at me, wondering what i was doing probably. It was great!! A successful day to me is to get off the beaten track and experience things that are true to the culture that 'normal' tourists would never see. That's the difference between backpacking and holidaying..we don't like to consider ourselves as tourists (even tho i know we are) but we like to mix with the culture more well at least i do! So im so glad i didn't take one of the tourist tours of trekking and tribes because i did just fine myself and found it much more rewarding in return. I also heard that some of the tribes, particular the Longneck tribe (one where the women wear several rings around their neck to elongate it) are almost like freak shows and there's no authenticity or realism to the tours... just a bunch of souvenir stalls set up, no village at all. I don't think the tribes people get much money from the tours either, just a little bit from the government. Anyways so i scooted my way back to the city after a long day of scooting...tried to make it to Chiang Rai beach for the sunset but it was too cloudy though...but still lovely. good place for a much-deserved beer as there were bamboo decks all along the river with bars/restaurants. It was a few kms from the city so again no tourists, just locals. So i was happy once again!! I returned my bike this morning and proceeded to the bus station for the 2 1/2 hr bus journey to here, Chiang Khong.

I'm not sure what to expect with Laos but i'm excited to experience a new country, new culture, new people...i never know what's gonna come my way so just gotta take it as it comes!!
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