Monday 21 August, cloudy, foggy, shower,, 27°
Woke up at 7am , we went down stairs for some breakfast then back up to the room for packing etc. We checked out then headed down to the lobby at 9am to wait for our pickup. A van arrived at 9:30am and we squeezed into the back next to the luggage. We weren't sure if this van was just a transfer to a larger bus or not, but it turns out that this was our ride to Chiang Khong. After winding our way out of Chiang Mai we headed up into the hills ( and the rain ) then back down out of the hills into a flat valley. We stopped for ' lunch ' at 11:15am at a place south of Chiang Rai then carried on at 11:45am to just outside Chiang Rai
We stopped at 1:00pm at the "White Temple" just south of Chiang Rai. This temple is quite cool but is more of an art installation / tourist attraction than a proper temple. We joined the herd, paid our B50 ( NZ$2 ) each and followed the procession through. It was very cool looking, but felt a little tacky.
We grabbed some supplies for lunch then we got back in the van ( thankfully some luggage had been removed for a couple who were only going to Chiang Rai, so I had a little more room ) and headed east at 1:40pm.
Once we left Chiang Rai we entered a big wide valley with limestone hills around and paddy fields everywhere. After driving north for a while we stopped for a toilet break at 3:00pm ( in typical Thai driving style we overtook a truck after sitting right up behind it, and then immediately pulled in to the petrol station for the toilet )
Back on the road then through to Chiang Khong, which is a busy little town on the banks of the Mekong, although it looks like the busy part of town has moved from the area we were staying to the south end of town, now that the bridge has opened across the Mekong to form the border, and the boats that used to take people across to Laos are only for the locals.
We checked into our guest house at 3:45pm ( Nomad Guesthouse ) ( we were the only ones staying here off our bus ) and some others left to find other accommodation, and some left to cross into Laos straight away and jump on a bus to Luang Prabang ( a sleeper bus taking about 18 hours I believe ).
We went down to our room which was included as part of our package and dropped our bags. This is the first room on the trip with no air-condition, just a fan and a window, so with temperatures of 28° overnight and 60% humidity it could be a tough nights sleep.
We went for a walk to the local Mall ( a Tescoes ) to get some supplies for the boat trip, and to grab a cold drink, then back to the hotel at 5pm. I went for a walk along the banks of the Mekong to shoot the sunset then back to the hotel at 6:45pm for tea.
We sat on the covered deck upstairs for a while watching the thunderstorms roll around and the stars appear, then headed to our room at about 9pm.