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This is Part 2 of our Thailand posts. Click here for Part 1.
Leaving Chiang Mai is a lot like cutting off your own arm without anaesthesia.
Excruciating and next to impossible.
We had been to 16 countries, but as much as I loved them all, none of them felt quite like home. Chiang Mai changed all that. I’m not sure if it’s the people, the climate, or the food that I couldn’t get enough of, but even after two months, I still couldn’t convince myself to leave.
Wanderer felt the same way, so we had to find something truly magical to break the Chiang Mai spell.
That something appeared in the form of what I like to call:
Thailand’s “Nightmare before Christmas”.
Now, that might make no sense to you what-so-ever, but that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw “Wat Rong Khun” or “The White Temple” in Chiang Rai, a small town 3 hours North of Chiang Mai.
Don’t let the innocently white facade fool you.
As you get closer, you’ll quickly see the insta-nightmare that could’ve only come from a Tim Burton-esque brain.
Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, wanted to portray heaven and hell, so he made this scene for your viewing pleasure all the way to the temple.
Ahhhhh. So soothing.
But guess what?
That’s not even the freakiest part. The freakiest part…was INSIDE.
I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of the inside, with it being a place of worship and all, but just google “chiang rai white temple interior” and you’ll see I’m talking about.
We spent a good half an hour inside, just walking around, trying to decipher all the symbolism and statements about the meaning of life, and the entire time feeling like we were on acid.
After travelling around the world, we’d seen our share of temples and churches, but nothing like this. Other temples were pretty and opulent to look at (with the exception of the bone church in Prague), but this one made you think. And that, at the end of the day, is what makes great art great.
Even if you have to be on a TON of acid to come up with it.
So that was our introduction to Chiang Rai, and we loved it. Even though it’s a smaller, more quiet version of Chiang Mai, that temple alone is worth the 3 hour trip.
Plus, it also has this:
Take a wild guess as to what this is.
Is it a vault for gold bars?
A room for the King’s throne?
The Queen’s walk-in closet?
Nope, nope, and nope.
This, my dear Revolutionaries, is a toilet.
Yup. You read that right.
And not just any toilet. The most beautiful toilet in all of Thailand.
Or it was…until I got there:
Aren’t you glad you came to this blog?
And now that I’ve scarred you for life, let’s move on to the other places we visited, like Bangkok, which apparently holds the record for the most visited city in the entire world!
We were both pretty shocked when we first heard that.
I mean, c’mon. How could the most visited city in the world not be London, Paris, New York, or Tokyo?
But it’s true. With over 32 million international visitors in 2016, Bangkok reins supreme over its rivals.
And I could see why. Not only did Bangkok have a ton of attractions (Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha, floating markets, Khao San Road) and delicious food, it also had its share of green spaces.
Like Lumpini Park, which is my favourite spot in Bangkok, and in my mind is basically the Central Park of South East Asia:
Even famous shows like “Asia Express”, the Asia version of the Amazing Race, gets filmed in Bangkok. While we were at the train station, after being mistaken for a local, we were asked by one of the contestants whether we had a clue for them.
After we helpful drooled a lot and gave them blank stares, they quickly ran off.
So after working up an appetite from chasing the film crew around and pretending to totally be part of the show, we decided to pig out in Chinatown.
Here’s what we ate:
As it turns out, Bangkok was more expensive than Chiang Mai, but still didn’t do much damage. Chiang Rai was just as inexpensive and helped to balance it all out.
So now that we’d been to the cities, it was time to discover the gem that makes Thailand one of the top destinations in the world.
The Thai beaches.
Stay tuned next week for Part 3 where we discover the most glorious sunset of all sunsets.
Come meet us at this year's Chautauqua UK! Details here