East from Chiang Mai
23 Jan 2019
The lady who runs our accomodation for the night (the Sunnery Ville..she manages it for her son who lives in Bangkok) has indicated we should get up early to see the local temple, so breakfast was at 6am. Before sun up we were travelling up a road winding along ridge tops, at one point being 1624m above sea level, to reach Thailand’s highest temple, Wat Pa Phu Thap Boek. This temple can be seem from kilometres away, but when you arrive you realise it is far from finished. After a look around the existing original temple, and the new sections under construction, we drove back through the ridges again to our hotel where we decided to have an easy day. Early afternoon, we headed off for a drive around the local area. We visited a couple of temples, and saw lots of Thai country life in the villages.
24 Jan 2019
A much more civil start time for our day at 9am as we headed south. We stopped first at another unfinished temple project, Wat Non Sattha Chum, where the feet and head of the very large Buddha statue could be seen from the road. On closer inspection we could see that the Buddha statue was still under construction. From here we headed back into the mountains again visiting a couple of Chedi and a millitary museum. Time got away from us and we did not get to visit the temple we had planned to see. To reach a hotel in daylight we drove east again noting many signs warning of wild elephants. We arrived at Chum Phae about 6pm where we took in the local markets and found a roadside cafe that sold the most tasty Pad Thai. Our hotel for the night was the Tummi House Boutique Hotel.
25 Jan 2019
Last night we had the hardest hotel bed of the trip so far. We both did ok on though, which was good. Sadly no breakfast today with our hotel. That’s what you get for just $25! It makes a good excuse to head to Amazon Cafe. After a few stops for fuel, coffee etc we arrived at Khon Kaen and found the traffic heavy and aggressive. So we booked ourselves into our hotel, The All Seasons Hotel, and made some plans for the afternoon. After visiting 4 temples we headed back to the hotel for a rest. The heat today has been quite hot, so we decided to wait until 6:30 before heading off to Tom Tam market for dinner. Of course we found some great led light displays to enjoy after dinner.
26 Jan 2019
Today we finished our trek north to the Mekong River. Along the way we took the very much less travelled roads, even stopping to meet locals as they cut cane. They were lovely, even giving us a Melon to eat. We also took the opportunity to investigate one of the cane truck holding yards. So many trucks and the sweet smell of burnt cane filled the air.. the first small issue of the trip today was google maps took us to a rice paddy field for our hotel address in Long Khai. But we did get to see some great rural life along the way. The night was spent at the markets along the Mekong. The hotel “Park & Pool” was a disappointment, music and noises of people having fun into the very late hours. But noise cancelling headphones to the rescue.
27 Jan 2019
First stop today was a very cool historical park, Sala Keoku. The huge sizes, quantities and variation in the statues was very impressive (some of the structures reach 25 metres tall!!). This park also marked our most eastern point for this trip as we started to head west along the Mekong River. We purposely drove along the shores of the Mekong, through small villages that had some great views over to Laos. Eventually we drove up a large mountain to do the glass walkway at Wat Pha Tak Suea. It was here that we saw paragliders launching off the mountains, landing on the edge of the Mekong in the distance. From here we headed south to a very new temple with light blue roofs, called Wat Pa Phu Kon. We took a ride in the back of one of the utes to the top, about 1.5kms. A feature of this temple is a large reclining Buddha made from Italian marble. Forty blocks of marble were used, each weighing 15 to 30 tons.
Feeling a little hungry we stopped at a local market for some noodles before continuing our journey. Our last stop for the day was Loei. Here we found a hotel (The Loei Palace Hotel), before heading out to find a market for dinner.
28 Jan 2019
Today we backtracked a little to Erawan Cave. There were many many steps in this complex, but the cave itself was interesting. Eventually we climbed through the cave to a great lookout before retracing our tracks back to the entrance again. From here we headed east again to Phu Ruea, where we found some lunch and a huge (in size) temple, Wat Pa Huay Lad, which had plans to turn a hill into an artist structure. It would be massive if they ever start and finish this part of their project!
From here we head south to Lom Khao for dinner at our favourite roadside dinner before finding accommodation for the night at the Tonkho Hotel in Lom Sak.
29 Jan 2019
Today we headed back to an area we first saw with Neil and Connie 2 years ago, Sukhothai. Was a long day driving with the usual stops for temples, interesting sites like the part finished temple and of course some scrumptious lunch. I think the stop I enjoyed most is where we met with local farmers preparing and sowing rice fields. Was very interesting to see the process close up.
After booking into the Scent of Sukhothai Hotel we walked into the local ruins of the Sukhothai Historical Park just on sunset. We took some photos around Wat Maha That taking advantage of the beautiful sunset. After enjoying the setting sun, we headed off for a local dinner, a great Pad Thai and Tom Yum Gai (chicken and shrimps).
30 Jan 2019
Today we headed to Lamphun. Along the way we stopped in rice fields and more historical ruins at Si Satchanalai. I think these ruins are better and far less crowded than the Sukhothai ruins. Was great having spent time in Lamphun before as I remembered where the local markets were, and we found a awesome tasty dinner there. We booked into the Royal Princess City Hotel for the night.
31 Jan 2019
Had a terrible night sleep last night, was a highly recommended hotel with a strong musty smell and very hard bed. It was not the worst hotel we had stayed, but for the money paid it should have been better. However, breakfast was the best on the trip so far. Fresh milk, omelette and coffee mugs!
Today we headed back to Chiang Mai to try a hotel we had not been in before, Dewy House. Parking was difficult, but the overall stay was nice. Alison took a walk to the pre start of the Chiang Mai flower festival 2019 whilst Steve caught up on a sleep and rest. Dinner was in a local restaurant and we had an early night sleep.