Discovering there are no real redeeming attractions in the Golden Triangle area, I decided to begin heading South to Sukhothai, a 7 hour bus ride from the very enjoyable Chiang Rai. Although the meeting point of the Thai, Myanmar & Laos borders within the river appealed to me, this was spoiled by learning developers since banked on this elusive draw and created a commercialized area for souvenirs and t-shirts and hardly much more. I was open to attempting a motorbike rental for a self-guided day tour, as a monkey cavern and elaborate garden on the way would have rounded out the the journey. However, after my guest house special ordered an automatic for my trial, my coordination and operation of the bike left nil confidence in my safety. I ditched the idea and set out to the bus station by foot.
I briefly contemplated heading to Laos, mostly because the Alaskan I met at the cooking class painted a glorious picture. But an upcoming domestic flight out of Bangkok weighed on my mind a bit. I wanted ample time to return to Bangkok gradually while fully exploring the lower Northern cities along the way. I was also tempted to return to Chiang Mai for a visit to Doi Inthanon National Park, a stop I bypassed while there last week, opting for getting some well-needed rest. I also knew that behind my wishes to return to Chiang Mai was food. Sometimes to the point of irrationality, I can be lead by my stomach. But this time, no dice. Having spent 98% of my projected budget already, and with another month of traveling to go, my insatiable appetite would have to remain so.
My 2 days in Chiang Rai were very pleasant. Out of all the cities I have traveled, it stands out as a definite highlight. The often frustrating competition for my money at the bus station, at the market, on the street can make a stroll in town a battle, a constant cycle of repeated friendly rejections. The constant attention gets a bit unnerving. Besides steady soliciations, my presence seems to entertain, interest and/or annoy locals. In Chiang Rai, this was all at a significantly lesser degree. Prices were not tripled, aggressive negotiations unnecessary and “farang! farang!” followed by giggles was not shouted amongst groups of Thais. None of this ever irks strongly enough to impede on my travel goals however its absence does contribute to a more enjoyable stay. Also contributing, the staff at my guest house and all their lovely animals that claimed the lounge. This pretty little kitty made my lap her bed as I ate my cornflakes. I miss you, Frankenstein!