The journey from Nan to Chiang Rai was a gruelling one. The one bus a day leaves from Nan at 9:00 prompt, and then spends the next three hours following the tight-twisting road through forest-clad mountainside. In several places half the road had simply fallen away into a ravine, and in others the road was reduced to rutted rubble where streams crossed its path.

It was strange to think that in this, the 21st century, there are still people living almost naked in the forest to either side of me, building simple shacks covered with leaves; as the leaves turn yellow they move on.

The second half of the 6 hour journey was less arduous, through rice fields and dusty little towns.

In 1881 Robert Louis Stevenson wrote that it was better to travel hopefully than to arrive. On this occasion he was right. Getting off the bus I was surrounded by an aggressive bunch of touts promoting their respective guest houses and treks. (Intruding on the homes of various ethnic minority groups is big business here – not that the minorities benefit at all from the visiting grungy backpackers.)

On the streets there were more farangs than Thais. It felt as if I was in an horrible ghetto full of tattooed skinheads, obese Americans and scary-haired punks.

Still, in two days I’ll be moving on.

The temples here are nothing to write home about. In fact, I took but a single photograph during my sojourn, at Wat Phra Singh. It’s below.

Chiang Rai - Wat Phra Singh at dusk

Not really sure why I bothered.


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