Chiang Rai, Thailand – Day 1

This morning we woke early and walked the ten minute journey into the city centre for breakfast, where we took full advantage of the free wifi to make our plan for the day. We knew we wanted to visit Wat Rong Kuhn (famously known as the White Temple), but being 13km south of the city centre it would have been an expensive taxi or tuk-tuk ride. I had read in a couple of blogs that the local bus would drop us there for a mere 20 baht each (around 50p) so we headed to the temporary bus terminal in the centre of the city. I say temporary; apparently they are meant to be building a brand new terminal, however for the past year and a half the bus station has consisted of a soil expanse with a fence around it.

Anyway we headed towards a bus which conveniently had ‘White Temple’ painted on the rear, where a lovely Thai bus assistant directed us to take a seat. After our luxury bus journey from Chiang Mai where we had three times the room of a standard bus, we were not prepared for the amount of space we had on the local transport. The seats were so close together we could barely slide ourselves in, my knees digging into the metal seat infront of me.

The bus journey itself though went without a hitch, and we were dropped 100 metres or so from the temple on the opposite side of the highway. Naively I didn’t expect the temple to be as busy as it was; it was crawling with tourists and I can see why. A working progress for the artist who designed the temple complex, Wat Rong Kuhn is a contemporary place of worship. The temple itself is white to signify purity and the decoration is to signify good and evil, and the journey from material issues to a more divine state of mind. With skulls, reaching hands of desperation, buddhas with moustaches and much more this temple is definitely one not to miss!

Once we left here, we got a taxi back to the city centre (we waited for a bus for at least 20 minutes and one never came) and went on an explore of the city, stumbling across the Chaing Rai Flower Festival and returning back to our hostel at around 3. I then wrote postcards while Matt went to the gym and we then went out to dinner at a well reviewed place in town, which had traditional Thai music and dancing while we are.

Tomorrow we are off to explore more of the surrounding sites before planning our onward journey into Laos.

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