Exploring Chiang Rai
LONG TERM RESIDENTS of Chiang Mai are spoiled for choice when it comes to seeking the perfect venue for a special occasion. And so it was that recently, a group of Zontians from cities throughout the kingdom, chose to celebrate the birthday of Auntie Somboon Suprasert at the picturesque Thatorn River View Resort.
We arrived in the afternoon, in time to freshen up before a scheduled sunset cruise along the Mae Kok river. Some of the girls enjoyed spa treatment, while others had one of the Resort’s masseuse visit their room. The Resort nestles on the bank of the nearby Mae Kok, in a peaceful valley overlooked by the majestic Wat Thatorn, with its serene statues of Buddha.
Suitably refreshed, we boarded our longtail boat and were soon skimming along the river, with Myanmar on one bank and Thailand on the other. We spent an hour on the river, enjoying the cool evening breeze as the sky changed from peach to deep orange.
Fine Thai food is one of the many reasons for return visitors to the Thatorn River View Resort. The fare on offer comes with the commendation of M.R. Rajawong Thanadsi Sawadiwat, renowned Thai gourmet of Shell Chuan Chim fame that is the Thailand version of Michelin Guide.
Accommodation at the Resort comprises rooms in the one-storey main building, or individual log cabins near the river. All rooms are delightfully furnished with warm comforters on the beds and have piping hot showers to soothe the travel weary.
We slept well, and in the morning enjoyed a lavish buffet breakfast before heading off to the border town of Mae Sai for some fun shopping. Crossing into the Burmese town of Tachilek is a stone’s throw from Mae Sai and very popular with Thai and foreign tourists alike. Thais are given day passes, for around forty baht, while foreign tourists pay five dollars US and have to leave their passports at the crossing point.
Our bargains in the Tachilek market included a local best-seller—a flashlight that needs no batteries! While browsing in the market we were entertained by a band of musicians who hauled their instruments and loudspeakers around in a pushcart.
Recrossing the river we then drove south, stopping first at Doi Toong, the Royal Residence of the Princess Mother. Serving as a center from which Her Royal Highness supervised the reforestation of Doi Toong, this beautiful wooden chalet, a cross between Northern Thai and Swiss design, sits amid glorious gardens.
Further south, we stopped to visit the newly-opened Mae Fah Luang University, with its Chinese language department housed in a building that resembled the set of a Bruce Lee movie. On an adjacent hillside stands a beautiful Thai wat with a golden spire and an awesome bronze statue of Mae Kuan Imm with two cherubic children at her side.
From here, we drove to the Golden Pine Resort for an excellent lunch, and discovered the new location of the Long Neck Karen village in Chiang Rai. However, being pressed for time we resolved to visit the village on a future trip.
Before heading home to Chiang Mai, we stopped to visit the amazing temple designed by Chiang Rai born artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat. The exterior reminds me of white frothy meringue. The "Wat Rong Khoon" temple has been under construction for some three years, and draws many visitors at weekends. The temple’s interior is home to a beautiful golden mural of the Buddha image. The building fund is partially supported through the sale of colorful lithograph posters of the artist’s work. Located at Or-Donchai Su-sdistrict, 13 kms south of city on highway 1, turn right at the tri-section toward Route 1208 and follow for 100 meters.
Follow our recommended itinerary above to enjoy the latest sights in the ever-developing province of Chiang Rai.
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