Solo Travel - Chiang Rai, Day 1
I couldn’t sleep the night before my solo trip to Chiang Rai. There was so much being talked about how “unsafe” for a single woman travelling to an unfamiliar place.
My flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok was simple, there was some confusions with the transfer, but overall, I managed to board the correct flight.
I arrived at Chiang Rai (Mae Fah Luang) International Airport just after dinner time. As any solo travellers will do, I followed everyone off the plane and was waiting like a dork for my bag. Luckily one of the Thai airway staff saw my “international baggage sticker” on my tee shirt! Otherwise, I didn’t even know that there’s another belt for luggage. After a short taxi ride from the airport to my guest house, the Akha River House for 200THB. I stepped into the almost deserted reception and rang the bell.
There’s some pretty average reviews on trip advisor, but overall, I think it is pretty nice that it is slightly out of town. The receptionist, who later became my guide to the jungle and constantly giving flowers along the way, Mob sorted the general procedure. Then he shown me to a room with twin bed, he said that this is just for tonight and tomorrow, I will move to a single room.
All in all, it was fine. The room is basic, a bed, modern toilet, lights and a mini fridge with 2 free bottles of water. They could do with a chair and some hangers. The minute I stepped into the bathroom, I was greeted by a millipede.
I slept most of the night and only got up because the air-con was getting too cold! The next day I got up and immediately think of what to do. I’ve no particular plans and the lonely planet book actually has very few information. After breakfast, the staff told me I can transfer to a double room with a King-size bed to myself. Some fiddling around later, I set off to town.
The road to town seemed long and arduous in the scorching heat. I wondered aimlessly and saw a sign to the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT). I explained to the staff sitting in an old Volkswagen van that I’m travelling on my own. The guide was friendly and thorough about what I can do and where to go. Most of the places are quite far out when he pointed on the map. My only regrets were that I don’t know how to ride a bike! Otherwise, I would be fairly happy to hit the road. He told me to speak to my guest house and two other tour companies in town. Hence I set off, following the map which I used every single day! It is not the most accurate map, but if I managed to see all the Buddhist temples in town and some well recommended places. It’s not bad!
As I walked towards the more touristy side, I came across the life-saving Boots and essential 7-11 stores along Phaholyothin Road. Then I just randomly walked into the Jed Yod Buddhist temple. Whatever it was, I was intrigued by the colours, the design and murals painted inside the temple (praying room). There were some elderly people just chatting outside the prayer room and they obviously noted I am not a local. But none of them said anything, especially they looked sympathetic as I kept wiping off sweat on my face.
After a short while, I came across the Clock Tower. In fact it is a big roundabout with a golden clock in the middle. Everyone said that I should go and see at night, because it was will light up and with music! I never bothered, as I returned here almost every single day later. Then after a quick look in the central market. I walked to PD tours one of the tour companies recommended by TAT. The staff speak minimal English, but the boss there, she seems pretty good with deals. Since there were no other tourists, she’s happy to tailor a simple plan with me hiring a car, driver with gas to Doi Tung, Doi Mae Salong and Mae Sai. I honestly had no ideas about these places. For £66 it seemed fair, so I said I will see them the next day.
With a trip booked, I thought there was at least something to look forward to. So I went back to get some foods and beer (which cost less than £2) before returning to the guest house. I did nothing, but just looking at the coriander and parsley fields outside my room. On my return, Mob told me that there was a guy looking for people to do some trekking in the jungle for tomorrow. I said that I also booked a tour, so maybe we could re-arrange that. But then there was a British couple who also wanted to do jungle trekking. So I moved my “tailored” tour on Friday instead. With 2 days trekking, plus a private tour. It was a good start, considering I did very little planning in advanced!