We got up early and went to breakfast, compliments of the hotel. There was a nice selection, but while there I discovered I had forgotten the key and locked us out of our room. Do’h. It wasn’t a problem for them at the hotel, and it was slightly embarrassing for me.
Our guide, Charlie, was someone I found on TripAdvisor. Shocking, I know. He came highly recommended. Before meeting him he was very good at promptly responding to questions and offering suggestions for our half-day tour. Charlie was a good guide. One thing that made him different was he asked us questions; no other guides had really done that up until that point. He seemed very interested in our lives, and that was a nice change and helped the interaction feel less one-sided. He picked us up in his car, which was perfectly fine, but certainly not fancy at all; it felt like getting picked up by a friend and not like a hired service, which I liked.
Our first stop was the White Temple. I saw a picture of this when planning our Thailand trip the last time we were in Thailand and really wanted to check it out. This time we made sure to include it in the itinerary. It’s just so different from any other temple you see anywhere. You can read more about the White Temple here.
I also took a few videos:
The front of the temple with the hands from hell was creepy. Charlie made sure to point out the only finger that was definitely female – it had red nail polish and was giving the bird. Hahaha. Like other temples, when you go in you take off your shoes. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pics, which is really unfortunate because there were some unusual (to say the least) things you wouldn’t expect to see. Most temples have a story of Buddha, but this temples had more of a current events theme on one side with the twin towers burning, Elvis, a minion, an angry bird, George Bush, Osama Bin Laden, and some super heroes. A lot of strange stuff. The temple is still under construction, and the artist said it will be another 60 years before it’s done.
One thing I’ve noticed in Thailand in general is how they really believe in luck and do things to better their luck. There are a lot of people just going around selling lottery tickets, at the temples you can do the sticks to find out your fortune, you ring the gong three times for luck, etc. At the White Temple you could get a leaf for luck and write on it to dedicate it. I wrote one for our friend, and Sal took a video of it being hung with the others.
After the White Temple we went to an art studio. Every month there is a new show. I think Charlie said there were 32 artists in Chiang Rai. This month was a feature on Japanese Manga.
From there we went to the Black House, and you can read about it when you click the link. The Black House is really a collection of buildings, so we walked along the grounds and Charlie explained several of them to us.
After the Black House we went to check out a local pottery studio and store. It was OK. Not really my cup of tea, but they can’t all be winners, right? On the way back to the hotel Charlie told us that Jermsak was the best guide in Chiang Rai. We have him as our guide tomorrow. He did say he (Charlie) was #2. Sorta funny.
We got back to the hotel and rested a bit, having thoroughly enjoyed our ½ day tour. It was just the right length of time, which makes me slightly worried because tomorrow is a full day. We went and got linner (early dinner, late lunch) at Barrab. Tasty and very reasonably priced.
We then went for a beer, waiting for the Night Market to open. It’s pretty spectacular people watching. After our beer Sal suggested going to a rooftop bar that was supposed to be nearby. We were almost there, then ran into this place.
Yup, it was one of those cat cafes. Turns out my allergies were mostly fine and Sal’s were definitely worse than mine. Almost immediately after we sat down a small tuxedo cat walked to me, then barely accepted a few pets before going straight to Sal’s lap. He/She didn’t get up again until we had to go!
Sal was clearly the cat whisperer.
I had a buddy, too.
It was really nice to pet some cats you weren’t afraid you’d catch fleas or worse from. We miss our cat(s). I think the cats had a really nice set up and the establishment took good care of them.
‘Our’ cats were the only ones who laid in our laps on their own, though, so nanny nanny boo boo! We strutted out when we left. Just kidding.
We headed to the Night Market and did a tiny bit of shopping. I didn’t think it was as good as the Happy Street from yesterday, but we didn’t see the whole thing. We’ll probably check that out tomorrow. After walking back to the hotel, it was again called a day!