For a nomadic person, every place is home. Sure, we are citizens of the U.S., but we make home wherever we happen to be at any given moment.
For the past few months, that home has been Thailand. We've set down here in Bangkok as a home base for the winter, and the time came a week ago for us to leave because our expiring visas.
Last year, our visit to the kingdom brought us to Chiang Mai in the North. But despite its proximity, we never paid a visit to Chiang Rai, which is about an hour away from the Thai border with Myanmar.
So we decided to combine our visa run with a short three-day visit to Chiang Rai. Nok Air had $28 tickets from Bangkok including free baggage allowance, and we booked ourselves into the FUN-D Hostel, upon reading the great reviews about it at hostelworld.
Little did we know that the excitement would begin as soon as we landed. My SOP upon landing at any destination is to make a beeline for the nearest ATM machine to get some pocket cash.
Luckily my teammate had the foresight to bring emergency cash! Josephine saved the day, and my momentary panic was replaced by relief. It helped too that we were in budget accommodation, paying only $11/night per person at the hostel.
So our trip started in earnest. A Belgian couple whom we befriended while in Nepal two years ago happened to be on holiday in Thailand at this time, and so we made plans to meet up with them at the night bazaar that night for dinner.
It was great catching up with Catherine and Niccolo, who we met back in 2012. We stayed in touch over the years, and it worked out that we could have a reunion here in Chiang Rai!
The next day, we executed our visa run. We have a detailed post on it, so if you find yourself in the situation of needing to "reset the clock" on your visa in Thailand, see the post: 'My Thailand Visa Is Expiring!' for the best way to do a visa run from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai / Tachilek.
After our visa run, we rented a motorbike and spent the next couple of days taking in some of the sights in and out of Chiang Rai, including:
The White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun in Thai, a contemporary, unconventional, privately owned, art-exhibit in the style of a buddhist temple. The artist who started the project in 1997, Chalermchai Kositpipat, has earned many accolades for his masterpiece, and recently passed away. Admission to this temple is free of charge.
Wat Huay Pla Kung, a 9-story temple on a hill with a huge buddha overlooking the temple grounds. The temple is still under construction, but it is nearly complete. The 9-meter tall buddha statue can actually be seen when landing at the Chiang Rai airport if you are sitting on the left side of the plane.
The Clock Tower, a work of art that serves as a traffic roundabout in the city and takes on a distinctive new character in the evening. It was designed by the same artist who created The White Temple.
Food, Glorious Food!
And of course, we are as adventurous with our palates as we are with our touring, so we couldn't leave the area without feasting on some local delicacies including:
Khao soi, a soup-like dish made with a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, pickled cabbage, shallots, lime, ground chillies fried in oil, and meat in a curry-like sauce containing coconut milk.
The curry is somewhat similar to that of yellow or massaman curry but of a thinner consistency. It is popular as a street dish eaten by Thai people in northern Thailand, though not frequently served in Thai restaurants abroad.
Khao Puk Ngaa, a black sticky rice that is pounded into a flour and then steamed and grilled on banana leaves and topped with brown sugar.
This incredibly delicious yet only slightly sweet(unless you load up on the sugar) dessert is best eaten when still warm. It reminds me of the Philippine dessert puto bumbong.
Burmese Tea Salad, or lahpet thohk, something we ate during our border run to Myanmar.
Pickled tea is unique in the region, and is not only regarded as the national delicacy of Myanmar but plays a significant role in Burmese society.
After three days of adventures in Chiang Rai, it was time to head back to Bangkok. We leave you with a shot from the 9-story pagoda at Wat Huay Pla Kung.
We have lots more images from Chiang Rai in our photo galleries if you CLICK HERE.
And if you're ever in Thailand, we hope you get the chance to visit this amazing region, and please don't hesitate to reach out to us to answer any questions, we're glad to help!