14.09.2011 - 16.09.2011
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we got the train up to chiang rai, and stayed about 4 nights there.
to be honest, it's quite a boring town. Not much going on except a big (smelly) food market. One day we went up to the golden triangle - a point where another river meets the mekong and is the physical boundary between Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. You can stand in thailand and see into both the neighbouring countries, and can see over Myanmar into China in the background. Its quite nice scenery, but its been ruined by some big tacky touristy attractions. Myself and a guy I met at the guesthouse in chiang rai were planning to rie motorbikes up there, but it was chucking down all day so thought it would be better to get the bus.
At the moment I'm in Lampang on my first stop on the way down south. It's the first time i've actually spent alone since landing in bangkok, and I'm enjoying having a bit of space for myself but also missing company. Lampang is also quite "off-the-beaten-trail" for foreigners, so I haven't met anyone. Apparently it got added to the lonely planet guide this year, so maybe next year there will be a bigger industry here. So far I met one american guy who opened a coffee shop in lampang after marrying a woman from the area who he met travelling, and I've seen one other white guy who looked about my age go past in the back of a horse-drawn cart (they have them up here instead of tuk-tuks). I also made friends with a thai lady who runs a cafe, after I went in to hide from the rain.
It's been raining pretty heavily for the past few days, and each downpour has lasted quite a long time, unlike the short showers i witnessed over the past few weeks. There are some very bad floods in areas of sukhothai and ayuthaya, and although the ruins that i wanted to visit are ok, I thought it would be better to miss them out just to be safest. A) I don't want to get caught in a flood, and B) even if i don't get caught in a flood, i dont want to get stuck in either of those places if the transport gets affected by other floods.
So I've booked a sleeper train back to bangkok. I'll spend a couple of nights there and hopefully meet some other travellers (there are SO MANY there!) who are also heading down to the islands. I think that's quite likely to be honest.
I'll head down to ko tao to do a scuba diving course (second cheapest place in the world to do them - only cost 200 pounds compared to 1000 everywhere else!) and decide where to go on to from there.
I've decided that I can go to sukhothai and ayuttaya in February, on my way back to bangkok. It will be drier then, and transport will be better. There will be more tourists, but I don't know if thats a good or bad thing. Prices will be higher, and the sights will be more congested, but there will be more people to meet and share rooms with in guesthouses, making it cheaper. at the moment in lampang, I've got a 3-person room to myself and am paying 250baht per night for it! thats what you get for going to an already quiet area in the low season for tourism - a big difference from sharing a 300baht room between four of us, which I did in chiang rai!