Overland to the Mekong

After our fabulous cooking class we went back to the hotel to collect our bags and board our 5 hour transport to Chiang Khong.  We were worried it might be another songthaew with no air-conditioning or suspension, but to our delight our tour group was to be divided into 2 air-conditioned minivans.  This meant we could spread out, chat about the worlds problems and have a little nap.  Armed with my carsick tablets and travel pillow, I was in for a good trip.  After a few hours driving past a lot of rice paddies we stopped at hot-spring/market rest stop.

Soaking sore feet in hot spring water
Mum and I taking a break from the bus trip at a hot spring

After buying a bunch of bananas for lunch and soaking our feet in super-hot water we got back on that luxurious bus. 

Air conditioned mini bus

It really wasn’t that luxurious, but after some of the transport we’d been on, it seemed amazing.  Michael even organised to put a DVD on the minivan camera and we watched Couples Retreat.  It seemed funny, but wasn’t quite enough to keep me out of my well needed slumber.  I was woken up by our next stop just as it started to rain.  It was another temple.  I like temples, they’re beautiful, spiritual and interesting… but after so many temples they seem to blend together and look the same.  This temple, however, was totally different.  It was white for one, and looked like the cake a fairytale princess would have at her wedding.

Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun is a contemporary unconventional Buddhist and Hindu temple in Chiang Rai.  It was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, who wanted to give something back to Thailand after living overseas.  Construction began in 1997 and is ongoing., with contributions by contemporary artists.  We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but there was an artist painting a mural.  The more I looked at the mural, strange images emerged.  There were super heros, political figures and cartoon characters embedded in the seemingly religious mural.  When I asked Pan-Pan about it, he said the artist was trying to link old and new iconography in the spiritual space.

Beautiful white temple
Ornate toilet block at Wat Rong Khun
Group toilet photo
Mum and the cutout of the temple’s creator
Tree of heads

After walking around in the rain and the magnificent temple, we got back on the bus and it started to pour rain,

Trying to take a photo of the torrential rain

A short nap later we had arrived at our hotel in Ching Khong, by far the most rural place we had been.  With our dinner overlooking the Mekong (which was very black in the night), we took our first malaria tablet.

Dinner at a restaurant by the Mekong
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