Day 310 of 400: Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong – Thailand

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After breakfast on the patio listening to the prayer of the monks in the distance, the owner dropped us off at the post office in the small town of Chiang Rai.  We had a big box of stuff we had accumulated from various shopping in Thailand and needed to ship it home.  There were two levels to the post office and very minimal English being spoken.  I grabbed a number to get us in line since there were a few people ahead of us and Giff took the box downstairs to tape it up.  I ended up trading our number a couple of times as Giff still wasn’t upstairs, until finally he walked up dripping in sweat.  He got it all taped up and the guy at the desk took our money and said the box would be delivered in about 2 months via a slow boat.  Will we ever see that stuff again…who knows?

We left the post office and walked around town which was lined with random shops mostly a working town not necessarily set up for tourists.  We walked through a big building which was their version of a Wal-mart.  It was lined with permanent stalls selling everything from clothes to cleaning supplies.  We saw many tailors busy at work and since one of our things that hooked on the camera case had ripped, we found someone who was nice enough to fix it for free…of course no English was needed, just hand signals and pointing.

Once on the other side of the vendors, we stumbled into a tea shop.  We had really enjoyed our tea farm experience in China and were interested to taste and learn the differences between Chinese and Thai tea.  We walked in and sat down in the back at the tea bar.  A women who had everything covered on her body except for her face began explaining the types of tea they had available and started our tasting.  She was extremely patient with us as we asked a bunch of questions and wanted to taste many things we saw lined up at the bar.  She had little English blurbs for us to read the benefits of each tea she was pouring.  We ended up buying a couple small bags of tea we could use while traveling.

After tea time, we continued walking to the center of town towards the huge ornate gold clock tower.  As e walked down the street we saw a couple little places selling food.  One particularly stood out as it had all different colors of hot doughy buns sitting in the glass case.  There were a couple of people in line placing their orders so we decided to join.  We saw purple buns, orange, white, green etc all with a different fillings.  We were curious so ordered two types at 30 cents each.  She grabbed what we selected and then placed them in her steamer to heat them.  The taste was a very soft dough with a bit of sweetness…not bad but not great, however, I can see how they can be filling on a limited budget.  We saw another lady selling big bunches of bananas, not the kind of bunches we get in the US…these were literally the whole banana branch cut from the tree so it contained maybe  20 small bananas and were being sold all together for about $2.  Of course Giff couldn’t resist buying them even though they were green and needed a few days to ripen.  We continued walking down the street with our bundle of bananas and box of buns until we found a coffee shop nearby to stop for a caffeine fix.  I ordered a fresh coconut (they don’t exactly have these in Starbucks back home) and Giff ordered a coffee.  It was relaxing to sit on the patio sipping our drinks and chatting for a bit.

We grabbed a tuk tuk back to our B&B and our driver from the travel agency was waiting for us when we pulled in.  We are leaving for Chiang Khong today…the drive is a few hours, we will sleep at a hotel along the river and then will board our boat to travel down the Mekong river tomorrow.

We arrived in Chiang Khong which was so tiny I don’t think it can even be called a town.  It consisted of about 7 little places on the street, most were little restaurants and a couple of hotels.  This area is the launching point for travelers wanting to take the Mekong River journey…this town borders Laos.  We will fill out our forms to cross the border and then be in Laos tomorrow morning.  Tonight, we found a restaurant serving food outside with a really cheesy singer which made for good conversation.   Giff made friends with a little Thai kitty who was very appreciative of our table scraps.  We hoped the kitty would eat and run since some Thai people eat cats…we wanted him to escape.  After dinner, we went back to our room since there was not much to do…we made some of our Thai tea, watched a little non-English TV and went to bed since we have an early day tomorrow.

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