Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 3 - Chiang Mai & Thai Farm Cooking School
Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 5 - Maesa Elephant Camp & Long Neck Hilltribe

Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 4 - Chiang Rai, White Temple & Golden Triangle

See Part 1, part 2, and part 3.

I had read about the incredibly beautiful White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) at Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai is a small town located north of Chiang Mai. I decided to book a tour. The tour that I found included the White Temple, but also included a visit to the Golden Triangle.

Our guide Nan collected us from our hotel, and we drove through the countryside to Chiang Rai. It was interesting seeing the countryside - rolling hills, farm lands (rice paddies) and golden Buddha statues gazing over fields. 

Our van stopped off at the Chiang Rai Hot Springs. This is really a bit of a tourist trap. But it was a nice stop to get out and stretch one's legs.


I watched a woman roasting peanuts for sale. 


I watched quail eggs being boiled in bamboo baskets in the hot springs.  It was fun to potter around and do some people watching. But before long the tourist buses started to arrive, and it started to get crowded. 

So we took off, and drove to Wat Rong Khun. There we did come across the crowds. Clearly, this is a very popular spot with the tourists. 

The story behind the White Temple, as we westerners call it, is that its artist decided to create this temple, and make it open to all Thai people. (Thai nationals have free access, foreigners are charged.) The artist clearly has a sense of humor. There are amusingly strange and interesting art pieces scattered throughout the complex. Visitors are encouraged to pose with the art work.


The complex is a fascinating


and fantastical place...


We walked across a bridge to get to the inner chamber. This closeup represents the souls that are in hell...


We did have to remove our shoes to enter the inner temple. No cameras were allowed, which is a pity. We spotted characters from the Matrix, and even Kung Fu Panda included in the fantastical murals in the inner chamber. There are no monks assigned to the Temple.

The complex boasts the fanciest public toilets I've ever seen. So fancy we had to have our photos taken outside the facility...


 The White Temple is well worth a visit, even with the crowds and the tourists.

We headed off towards the Golden Triangle for some lunch. Then we were guided to the overlook, where a golden Buddha gazes calmly over the waters...


 The Golden Triangle is where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) meet.


 This area has long since been the focal point of the world's opium production. We even visited the Opium Museum.


But soon it was time to get back into our van and head back to Chiang Mai. This is what the countryside looked like...


We were amazed with the large loads of rice stalks (very light, to be used as mulch to grow garlic) that we saw on the backs of trucks.