From Bangkok we joined a G Adventures tour called Indochina Encompassed which would take us up through Thailand, across to Laos, Vietnam and down to Cambodia.
After a day exploring Bangkok we caught another overnight train! Third one in a week! This time we went to Chiangmai. The train was a bit different from the previous one we took- wider lower bunks but no room for luggage…- and the ride itself was a lot longer than before. Dinner and breakfast were fun though! A waitress comes and takes your order and what time you want to eat and then at the appropriate time, she pops up again and whisks out a table and linens and sets up a dinner service! Before we knew it, we were pulling into Chiangmai station and off to our hotel Mandela House just outside of the old town walls.
We were only here for a day, leaving the next afternoon to our next stop so we decided to relax and chill in preparation for the crazy next few weeks. So whilst some of our group went off on a long bike trip, Cat and I went for massages and a wander around the old town… Which all worked out as we stumbled into the middle of a Buddhist festival in the middle of the town! It was all music, costumes and colourful parade groups walking through the town. We didn’t envy them at all though as it was the middle of the day and you could see the sweat pouring off them!
The place we got our massages was a bit special- Lila Thai Massage- as it just employs former inmates at the local women’s prison. The owner is a lady who used to run the prison and established the business to help these women who often can’t find jobs afterwards. The women are taught to do massage whilst behind bars in order to give them a profession when they leave. I think it’s a pretty good business to support plus you get a very good, professional massage and it’s very reasonably priced. There’s five branches in Chiangmai alone so clearly they’re doing something right! It’s definitely one of the best I’ve had in Thailand!
The next day we were off to Chiangkong via Chiangrai (to see the white temple, see below!) where we got our first glimpse of the mighty Mekong River. It was a very short stop- basically long enoug for us to have dinner and get some snacks from the 7-11- before leaving Thailand heading to the Laos border early the next morning.