The local Chiang Rai experience
January 1, 1970
by Kimberly De Paauw
After a long bus trip, we arrived in Chiang Rai! We booked a hostel that 2 German guys told us about, they said that the hostel got an amazing rooftop bar where you can hang out and meet some new people! So when we arrived at the bus station in Chiang Rai, we started looking for this hostel, as we walked down the street a men offered to show us the directions and I have to admit that we didn’t want it at first, because most of the time when people help you in Thailand they expect something in return, but nonetheless this men showed us the way, gave us a big smile and walked away. When we arrived at the hostel, there was a girl at the reception that was really kind and showed us our room. We decided to have a look at the rooftop bar and were disappointed with what we saw. Apparently, rain season had started, so they closed the bar 2 days before our arrival. That was a bummer!
We went downstairs to play some cards, a guy with a friendly face asked us where we were from and what our plans were for tonight! He arrived in the hostel a couple of days before us and had been traveling for a while now, his name was Jonas. We talked for a while and decided, we would walk around to have a drink somewhere. As we walked down the street, looking at the prices of the drinks and the atmosphere at the bars we figured that everything was too expensive or to empty. So we decided to just grab some beers at the 7/11 (the Thai supermarket that you got everywhere in Thailand and is always open) and go back to the hostel to drink it in the common area! As we sat down again and played some cards a Thai guy walked in and started to chat with us, apparently he was the owner of the hostel! He was 26 and studied to be a doctor! He was very friendly and we told him that we were kinda disappointed that the rooftop bar was closed! He smiled at us and said:”So no worry’s we make our own party tomorrow!” If you guys want you can join our staff bbq! We meet at 5, go to the market together to get some food and after that, we have dinner with the staff from the hostel! Of course, we said yes!
The next day Jonas, Floor (my travel companion) and I decided to get up early and take the local bus to the golden triangle! We got up really early and got on the bus. The bus was made for Asian people, so we almost fell off the chairs during the trip, because we were way too big! The door was open for the entire trip, that was new for us as well, people back home would panic if the door stayed open! The bus had a lot of fans hanging on the ceiling and the inside of the bus had all different kinds of colors, it was pretty uncomfortable but as well it was a nice experience! We got dropped off near the golden triangle and had to take a shared tuck to the golden triangle itself!
The golden triangle & the opium museum
As you stood at the edge of the river, you could see the mainland of Myanmar & Laos! We really wanted to just grab a boat and sail to another country, it’s so easy to reach, and you could feel your wanderlust boiling inside! But we promised the people from the hostel to come back, so we couldn’t go! Near to the golden triangle, you’ve got the opium museum. We decided to go there, as we stood by the entrance we were shocked by the price.. it was 200 Bath! But we already walked all the way to the museum so we decided to go in! When we just got in, you arrived in this really long tunnel, with dark walls, scary faces sculptures on the walls, blue lights, and scary music. Because I’m a bit of a chicken, I thought it was quite scary, once we got out of the tunnel, there were all kinds of rooms with movies, mannequins and all kinds of information about the opium planting in the area of the golden triangle! It was really interesting and totally worth the money!
After the opium museum, we walked back to the golden triangle, to look for a tuck! Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a tuck, so decided to walk.. after a while, we figured that it was gonna be a long walk! So we decided to try it another way! I stood by the road with my thumb up. It was unbelievable, but the first pick-up truck that drove by stopped instantly when she saw us standing there, we told her where we had to go and, she told us to get in the back of the truck! It was an amazing experience, the wind blowing in our hair, the sun that shined upon us and the great river view! When the pickup truck dropped us off, the bus we needed was already there, so we could get on straight away!
Market & Dinner
When we got back to the hostel, the staff and some other guests at the hostel were ready to go to the market. So we went directly to the market, as we strolled down the local market you could see a lot of food, entire fishes, head of pigs, veggies, fruits etc. it’s good that we were with the local people because I have to admit I wouldn’t know where to start! We gathered all the ingredients, got some beers and went back to the hostel! We prepared the food together and set up the dinner table! They put like this small heater plates on the table and on top of them, they put something that looked like a soup pan. You had to put everything in the soup pan and when it boiled long enough, you could take the food out and eat it! After we dined together the owner walked in again and was ready to party! We turned on the music and everybody started dancing! we had an amazing night together!
When we woke up the next morning and walked down, the girl at the reception asked if we wanted to go to do sports with her and some friends! Because we didn’t want to be rude we said yes, even though we were still recovering from our hangover! She gave us her scooter to drive and got on the back of someone else’s scooter and told us to follow them! After a 20 minute drive, we arrived at a football field! It was huge, everywhere were big puddles because of the rain and the entire field was covered in small flies, it looked amazing! There were some American people as well…. but the special thing was they talked Thai, we were really impressed! It turned out that they were missionaries who learned the language in 2 months and organized these sports nights for the locals! After an hour of sports, we went back to the hostel.
The last night
It was our last night in Chiang Rai and we already knew we were gonna miss the people a lot! For our last night, they took us to a really small Thea house with live music, the atmosphere and people were amazing! If you decide to go to Chiang Rai, go to the Sook hostel and you’re in for an amazing time with amazing people!