125miles north of Chaing Mai is Chaing Rai. Our first impression of Chaing Rai was the hostel room, where we closed the curtains and cradled our stomachs. We knew our lunch had broken the golden rule, don’t eat salads. James was bed bound but somehow I was hungry, so I headed off to find a quick snack. Being a small place, it took less than 30 seconds for me to walk straight into the night market. Right in the centre of town, the night market is a hive of craft stalls, adjacent to a semicircle of food stalls, with a stage at one end. Hot spring rolls were calling to me. Every night the stage has performers. Some looked professional, doing a full Dianna Ross extravaganza, and others sedged like the local college guitar class.
Recovered from our food hiccup, we got to see Chiang Rai properly. Like its southern brother, there are loads of ‘tourist information centres’ offering adventure tours and treks. We opted for a one day jungle trek, scouting it out before committing to anything overnight. Most of the treks are 2 days 1 night, with some companies offing up to four or five nights. The greenery around the town is just beautiful, and well worth the effort. Ours included waterfalls, lunch, and a guide who loved the jungle more than he loved his dog. Through the trek we were shown the value of bamboo, with endless uses, but for me, the most rewarding was the sound. As we walked out of the thicket and into the bamboo forest, the wind picked up and gave an incredible musical sound. Because they’re hollow, they echo and click when things hit them, and creak as they bend over themselves. Loud cracks shot through the jungle as some snapped. I could hear nothing else but the sound of nature around me. Other than bamboo, we saw rubber, teak, pineapples, bananas, corn, elephant beetles, leaves of red dye…..
With another visit to the markets, (and a Thai hot pot), the trek and visit to The White Temple, we’d seen all we’d wanted to in the town. A short little trip to Chainge Rai is all that’s needed, and was for us an adventure within an adventure.