Chiang Rai has the power that always is given to me. Here I find strength and peace, here my faith in a man returns to me, here the sun never ceases to shine, and there is respect, sensitivity and wisdom in every gesture. Maybe the climate, maybe the presence of Lord Buddha, and maybe the fresh smell of green tea make me want to be here and I want to come back. It is worth.
Thailand is becoming an increasingly popular travel destination, in 2017 the number of visitors exceeded 35 million people. This is an impressive result and this is due to effort of many people, organizations, including the Thailand Tourist Office (TAT). I can see how important work is carried out by people responsible for the proper management of tourism – managing it in such a way that people living in small towns live better and better, because only then is traveling sensible. Thus, many programs are created to support the small towns and villages community.
The next stage (I think) is the education of tourists, instilling them a sense of responsibility. It is from the tourist, from us, ultimately depends what values will dominate here, in what direction tourism will go and how people will live. We depend on each other more than we think. Each of our decisions, our movement, our gesture has a huge impact on people and the place we arrive to.
Is it not worth traveling, therefore, not only for your own pleasure, but above all thinking of those to whom we arrive?
Green tea rugs
in Choui Fong Tea Plantation
Until recently, the Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand was associated with poppy cultivation, from which opium was produced. Thanks to the proper actions of the Government and the Queen, the country gained a completely new face, and many people received a job that changed their lives. Today, instead of poppy fields, green tea rugs cover vast hills and are an eloquent element of the landscape of this part of the country.
Meeting with Chiang Rai I started with a cup of tea at 1200 m above sea level, at Choui Fong Tea Plantation, which was founded in 1977. The land and climatic conditions for the cultivation of these life-giving plants are excellent here. Tea leaves are picked by hand and the taste of tea infusions is unforgettable.
Produced here are such distinctive types of tea as: Assam, Green, Oolong or Black Tea, but there is also jasmine tea, dried rose buds and several others. For more demanding, Thai women create real works of art – a flower tea, which is brewed in a transparent teapot. The very process of brewing this tea, while a flower immersed in hot water, opens before us its colorful interior, an extremely grateful phenomenon.
This tea tastes delicious with quail eggs. I would like to write something interesting about quail eggs, but maybe in the next article. I will also add that the brand Choui Fong was trusted by many well-known companies around the world, and on the spot you can buy not only different types of tea, but also accessories for tea, eat a good dinner or a cup of green tea and meet interesting people. Even Poles on motorcycles.
Healing on the Mekong River
in the temple of Wat Phra That Pha Ngao
Legend has it that if anyone gets sick and comes to Wat Phra That Pha Ngao, the disease will soon disappear. I can not imagine visiting the Chiang Rai province, without seeing this place. Wat Phra That Pha Ngao is built in the Lana style. The temple is clean and well-groomed, and regained its second life when Sukhothai style ancient statue of Buddha was discovered there. There are also three ancient stupas here. The complex is richly decorated, and in one of its parts a biography of the Buddha is presented.
The temple is located on a hill, from where there is an impressive panorama for two rivers: Mekong and Ruak with views of Laos and Burma on the other side. The smell of the forest mixes here with the jasmine scent of flowers and incense coming from the temple.
At a time when opium caravans marched from Laos across Thailand to Cuba, the CIA gave the site the name of the Golden Triangle. Later, cultivated fields were turned into tea plantations, coffee or strawberries and many others. Today, Golden Triangle is one of the main tourist attractions of Southeast Asia. And in the heart of the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai was created Opium Museum, which is worth visiting to learn more about the history of this place and to understand how huge and important to society work made by Thai people to change the fate of their children and grandchildren.
Life and culture
of the Thai village
Black-haired girls with fair complexion bent their bodies to the rhythm of Thai sounds. They attracted attention not only with their beauty and colorful outfits, but above all with graceful movements. Even the tempting smell of baked bananas and black coffee I tasted could not take out my eyes off them. We experienced so full of charm and aroma welcome in Ban Pang Ha.
Ban Pang Ha, is one of the picturesque villages in the province of Chiang Rai, the perfect place to get to know the life and culture of the rural community. One of the local attractions is staying at Jinnaluck Mulberry Saa Paper Community Enterprises.
From mulberry plant fibers, handmade paper and a lot of other paper products are produced here, as well as natural cosmetics for body care valued around the world, mainly for the face – after which the skin becomes smooth, like the baby’s skin.
Jinnaluck showed us how production looks and how valuable is the material produced. I prepared a picture from natural flowers and green plants, that I brought home packed in a spectacular, red bag made of stout paper.
Young Thai women watched my struggles with attention. One of them picked up a cream-colored umbrella and pushed it towards me. She quickly changed her mind and said – no, it’s not a good color, pink will be better for you.
And so, with a pink umbrella in my hand and my companions, we got on a trailer hooked to a tractor with straw roofs and went to visit the village. On the way we stopped in a place where we saw how the metals heated to red in a blast furnace took the form of tools for farming. Later, we visited a coffee plantation, passing rice and corn fields.
The road to the plantation is a pure feast for the senses. Bang Pang village, is located near the border with Burma, by the Rujak river, and from all sides green outright here. Our driver, put his hat on the head, started the tractor again and drove us to the place where man and nature become one.
After returning, we took a bath in the water with the addition of mulberry, then rested under the bananas and enjoyed the local dishes. In such a place it is definitely worth staying for more than one day. I could even live here.
Doi Tung Tree Top Walk
The pavement Suspended on ropes is 295 meters long. It hangs about 30 meters avove ground in the royal garden of Mae Fah Luang Garden of the Doi Tung. I fastened the seatbelts and set off to the green bush to look at the garden from the perspective of the bird.
When I was in this garden three years ago, I only visited it from the zero level. The change of perspective has made a very positive impression on me.
Doi Tung is a 1400-meter high mountain, on the slope of which the Doi Tung Villa Reale, or Royal Villa, rises. The residence is surrounded by a beautiful English-style garden, where colorful flowers and carefully trimmed lawns blend harmoniously with rock formations. The design of the Mother Queen idea was intended not only to contribute to the protection of the environment, but also to provide jobs and tourist promotion of the region.
It is to her Royal Highness, Princess Srinagarindrdzie, later Queen Mother, more known by the Thai people as úSomdej Yaa – Chiang Rai owes splendor, she was the initiator of many economic and moral changes in her kingdom.
Photography was always Queen’s great passion. She once said that she is nowhere to move without a camera so that she can save her important moments in her life at any moment and pass on to generations.
And now, it’s time for a massage
Another thing that can not denied yourselves while in Thailand is a massage. We have many to choose from. The most popular and one of my favorites is traditional Thai massage, which is a sequence of techniques that combine the acupressure of more important points on the human body with elements of yoga, stretching and reflexology.
The perfect and practically possible to do under all conditions is foot massage, which I try to use every day during Thai wandering. It not only has regenerating properties but also health benefits.
That day, we visited the Natural Thai Spa in Chiang Rai, where I had the pleasure of an hour-long massage in very comfortable conditions and with relaxing background music. This time I chose a full body massage. After such a dose of pleasure, freeding from stress and fatigue, I was ready to go for a walk around the night market.
Night market in Chiang Rai
I love fragrances enclosed in small bottles. I try to try bring some from every stay on the trip. And just in search of scents I went to the Chiang Rai night market. Bangkok is always associated with the scent of jasmine, and Chiang Rai is the smell of orchid for me.
Night Bazaar in Chiang Rai, is much smaller than in Chiang Mai, but more intimate and probably a lot cheaper. With Motaz, my friend from Jordan, with whom I attended the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Chiang Mai a few days earlier, we sat at one of the tables here, drank the local Singh beer. We listened to the rhythms of the night city and watched the traditional dances of northern Thailand. It never gets boring itselves.
– Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun is probably one of the most recognizable Chiang Rai business cards. It is unique in many ways. It was designed by the world famous artist from Thailand – Chalermchai Kositpipat, known from great faith. In principle, it is not white, but white – crystal, with thousands of tiny mirrors puted in it.
The temple is devoted to Lord Buddha with the intention of building a paradise on earth that is possible to achieve, representing justice and encouraging good karma.
Due to the exceptional quality in art and the extremely complex architecture, the hall at Wat Rong Khun is different from any other temple in terms of having both carved peaks and serrated ridges. The hall itself is mostly built in pure white, which illustrates the purity of the Buddha. Shiny, transparent mirror glasses are a symbol of wisdom, as the wisdom of the Awakened, which glows over the earth and the universe. Together with these elements there are many elaborate frescoes that can not be missed.
The interior of the building is an amazing fantasy, in which the author interweaves religious figures with characters from mass culture, such as Spidermen, Batman or the heroes of the Matrix. Also catastrophic scenes like the one from September 11, 2011 in the World Trade Center are shown.
In accordance with the intentions of Chalermchai, nine monastery buildings of various styles were gradually built. This Buddhist work means that the great sky is accepted and praised all over the world. Thanks to the meticulous architectural components, you can study not only elaborate physical elements, but also contemplate the Dharma through this religious miracle.
Singha Park Chiang Rai
Before departure to Bangkok, we visit Singha Park Chiang Rai, which is located 450 m above sea level and covers as much as 12.8 km2 of fertile soil on which tea is grown. Singha Park offers many attractions and entertainment. It belongs to the Singha company, which is the producer of one of the most recognizable beer in Thailand – Singha. Beautiful and rich vegetation, colorful flowers, animals and sun are here throughout the year.
Singha Park is orderly, organized – ideal for people who want to soothe the senses in a place neat and full of interesting entertainment. One of the popular attractions of the park is a balloon flight.
– Wat Rong Suea Ten
When I saw her, I was stunned. Wat Rong Suea Ten is one of the newest Buddhist temples. If someone imagines the sky as a heavenly temple, that’s how can feel here – like in heaven. Wat Rong Suea is very different from the temples I have seen so far.
The blue interior is filled with artistic works and delicate gold ornaments, but the Buddha himself is not golden, as in most temples, but white. And the white color means the soul.
Apparently, there used to be tigers here that jumped across the river, hence the name of the town where the temple is located – “Suea Ten” literally means a dancing tiger.
The temple was rebuilt in a place where some 80 – 100 years ago a temple was destroyed. In 1996, the residents made a decision to rebuild, and the construction itself began in 2005. The White Buddha was completed in 2008, and the main room in 22 January 2016. Because it is such a young temple, it is relatively unknown among trusts, but certainly with each year will attract more and more visitors who, maybe just like me they will see what the sky looks like at Chiang Rai.
Chiang Rai province, has definitely more attractions than those I wrote about. To get to know and feel them, you should stay here for a long time, stay with people, participate in their lives, cook and eat with them, drink green or blue tea, lie on a hammock suspended between trees and become part of this unique world.
Not forgetting that we not only take our experiences from here, but leave a trace behind us. And where and how to look for it? Perhaps in the eyes of another man, perhaps someday we will return to what we leave. Thailand is wonderful, open to people and who will come here once, will want to come back.
Author: Dorota Kozioł Komarnicka
And here is my another article about Chiang Rai: Thailand, Chiang Rai – the gate to the Golden Triangle
Polish language: Chiang Rai – kiedyś opium, dziś kusi zielonymi polami herbacianymi