For my birthday we decided to stop for a well-deserved (?) break in the mountains near Chiang Rai. We have been travelling for two weeks, but we are already incredibly tired!
Chiang Rai is famous for its White temple. I was expecting an ancient building but I was surprised: the temple has been designed by a modern artist and it is totally different from what I have seen so far. I didn’t like it that much, but at least it was different, with drawings picturing superheroes or famous artists next to the Buddha.
This artist seems to have conquered whole Chiang Rai. There are several things in the town that are made with the same style of the temple. Street lights, decorations near the roads and even a clock at the roundabout. I find it a bit kitch, but the guy appears to be very proud of his artwork.
Chiang Rai is a tiny city, and I did not find it very special. However, the town is at its best at nighttime, when the food market opens all over the city and the smell of steam rice, which is an everyday constant, mixes with spices, garlic and fried food.
Eating out every day, multiple times per day is a normality here – people stop at food carts for a quick bite or for take away. We perfectly adapted to this habit. Also, food is ready soon after you have ordered it, and it is freshly made on spot – I’m getting so spoilt about these short waiting times.
We decided to spend 4 days of total relax in a retreat about half-an hour drive from Chiang Rai. It turned out to be a delightful decision because we had the full centre for us alone, a part from a couple from Hong Kong. It is amazing to travel during low season! You just have to be prepared for a daily hour of rain in the middle of the afternoon, but at least there are way less people travelling, and the nature is so green and luxuriant.
During our time at the Museflower we had a daily massage, two yoga lessons per day and amazing food, which has been cultivated at the organic farm attached to the area. We literally lived in a bubble. The retreat is in the middle of the jungle, and during sunset and night we were able to listen to the nature awakening around us. Returning back to the terminal station to move to Laos was a kind of shock!
I was surprised when I discovered that here people eat with spoon and fork, not chopsticks as I was convinced. Actually, the fork is used to move the food on the spoon – if you join an elegant dinner you should never eat from the fork.
Also, it is common to have breakfast with noodle soup, rice or anything we would consider suitable for lunch or dinner. Eating fruits with yoghurt for example is considered western.
The day we left Chiang Rai we tried noodles for breakfast because we were in a hurry. Thomas loved it, but I cannot tell the same – eating garlic from early morn its not a thing for me;)