(Day 274 to 276)
22.08.2010 - 24.08.2010 37 °C
Chiang Rai wasn’t really high on our list, but as we were on our way towards the Laos border we decided to take a day to visit and continue the shorter journey to the border later on.
We ventured out on our usual mode of cheap transport, the “trusted” motorbike. We first visited the very impressive ‘White Temple’ (Wat Rong Khun) which has been built by a local artist who has made it his life’s work. We found it to be very interesting and impressive as, you guessed it, it’s all white! This is unusual after all the gilded temples we’ve visited so far. The white of the temple stands for Buddha’s purity, and the glass that is used reflects Buddha’s wisdom that "shines brightly all over the Earth and the Universe."
Also the design and artwork in the temple are very very unusual. The four walls, ceiling and floor contain paintings that depict the story relating to Buddhism and teaching in a very modern and contemporary style. The artist uses icons from modern culture and through space ships, Superman, Transformers, Alien and Predator and even Neo from the Matrix, (amongst others ) he tells of the story of Buddha in this very unique display.
In the centre of town there is a gold clock town which was built for the kings 80th birthday and was designed by the same man who designed the While Temple mentioned above. It's gold, gaudy, brash and something of an assault on the eyes, but it really comes into its own at night when the clock town performs a light show. Every colour and hue is used, from lime green to outrageous pink as the Tower performs its own version of a bad disco.
We then found it very interesting to visit the Hill Tribe Museum to shed some light on the famed tribes in Northern Thailand. As mentioned in our blog post for Pai we visited the Long Neck Karen tribe on one day. What we learnt at the museum though, was that this particular tribe are actually brought into Thailand as refuges from Burma purely for tourism, very sad.
Our last night in Thailand was spent at the night market, enjoyed some food stall food, which wasn’t cheaper than our guesthouse strangely enough. Throughout Thailand, markets and food stalls have been the cheapest and best food so it was strange to find it different here.
That night we woke up in the early hours to the most amazingly loud thunderstorm. Thunder so loud and near that it felt as if you were sitting in the clouds as it played for hours like a loud canon.
The following day we were off on a small local bus towards the Thai Laos Border on the mighty Mekong River.
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