After another good breakfast at the hotel we were off for our private day tour with Jermsak. I bet you’ll never guess how I found out about him. How about this: any time the contact is *not* someone I found out about on TripAdvisor, I’ll point it out. Spoiler Alert: that will never happen.
Anyway, Jermsak picked us up and had a young woman with him. At first he talked to us as if she wasn’t there and it was a bit strange. I finally asked who she was, and he explained she was going to cook our lunch. I later found out she was his sister-in-law. I think one cool thing about the tour was we saw a few things not on the agenda.
We started the tour at the Blue Temple. The artist who created this was a student of the artist that did the White Temple, and it certainly showed. The Blue Temple wasn’t as commercial and was smaller, but I still really enjoyed it. I thought the blue was quite stunning, actually. You can take pics inside, which is great because it’s so different.
After the Blue Temple it was time for the boat ride on the Mae Kok River! The Mae Kok River flows into the Mekong River. Now, we had originally scheduled a raft ride, but the water was too high and moving too quickly to safely do that. Instead we were on a long-tail boat, which had a motor and for the most part seemed safe. We even had life jackets. See? Safe. Seriously, though, I do like riding in long-tail boats. When we were in Krabi we took one from island to island and I found it quite fun. They are bare bones boats with small wooden benches. Here is a pic I found on the inner webs, because you know I keep forgetting to take pics of these vehicles before we get on/in them.
On the boat it was obvious there was quite a current, but the top of the water was quite flat. The only issue was every once in a while we’d get splashed from the river. On our faces. On/by our mouths. Thai river water. What could possibly go wrong? Thank goodness for Purell. This was the second time this trip I washed my lips with it. I’m sure it’s not supposed to be ingested internally, but I’ll take my chances.
Our first stop was the Cave Temple. Here was our approach to it.
There was a very loud cat there complaining about something or other, and from inside the cave we could hear a “shhh!”. At first I was a bit freaked out and thought it was a bit spooky (it was Halloween, after all) until I saw the Monk there, meditating.
We also went to check out the Buddha that was near the cave and on the water. There were great views of the river and I again hit the gong.
Back we went in the boat, and had a long ride to a tribal village.
I did a little bit of shopping and we went for a walk around the village. We met one of the elders who had her tiny shop. It was right around there when we turned to enter into the shop that an elephant with a rider passed us. I never heard him coming, and was a bit startled! They are so quiet. This led me to asking Jermsak what his views were about elephant riding, etc.. He brought up some points about how places that say they are sanctuaries charge so much and chain their elephants up when the tourists go; how they are all in it for the money and not the elephants. I saw his point. I had no idea we were going to end up at an elephant camp. There were elephants with saddles on their backs for people to ride them and they were all chained up. You could buy food for less than $1 to feed then, and I did. We didn’t take an pics here as it was a bit depressing seeing them all chained up and one had a really runny eye. I fed them, though. I just had to.
After the ellies we met up with the cook again and went on a scenic drive. We dropped the cook and supplies off, then drove to the tea plantation to see the pretty views. It was idyllic; it looked like something out of a storybook.
We drove back to where we dropped the cook off, and we did a short hike to see the waterfall (Sal went and took this pretty video, I stayed behind because it was slightly tricky footing.). Once the men came back it was time for lunch.
The food was delicious. We had chicken, ribs, pork, rice, veggies, cashew chicken, and pineapple for desert. While we were eating we had a dog visitor. He didn’t get too close, but we threw him a few bones and he got a little bit closer. Then a bigger dog showed up and scared our new friend away. The bigger dog was rough looking and came closer to us. He did sit there like he was part of our little group.
They surprised Sal with a cake and sang happy birthay, which was very kind.
We got back in the car and made our way to the next village that was higher up the mountain. The roads reminded us of African safaris, and at one point I had to pee so bad a squatty potty sounded great…or a termite mound if we could find one. We got to the village, which was very quiet and very meager – I doubted they even had a squatty there. They used solar power but didn’t have electricity.
After a hike around the village and some waves from some of the kids, we made our way to the park and hot springs #1. I was so excited they had a bathroom and fully expected the squatty and didn’t care, but it was a Western toilet and I let out a quiet “woo hoo!” when I saw it. We walked around the park a bit and checked out the hot springs, but it was too hot to put our feet it.
We then drove a few minutes and went to a hot spring that we actually could soak our feet. It was a lot cooler until one woman turned the faucet on that was connected to the spring. Yikes!
Before heading back to the hotel we stopped at the Big Lady Buddha that we saw when we flew into Chiang Rai to begin with. It was very impressive.
We took a golf cart up the hill and paid so we could go inside the big lady buddha’s head and boy did she have a lot going on!
Then it was the end of our tour and we were back in the city and saying our goodbyes to Jermsak and SIL. We truly did enjoy our day and I think it was a birthday Sal will remember.
That night we went and had our first foot massage in Thailand, which was so good. We went to a ‘fancier’ place that was about $10 pp for an hour. Amazing. I foresee more foot massages in our very near future. We then went to the night market and saw some free entertainment in the square. We got some food at the food court part – Sal really got into his food.
We walked back to the hotel and that was the end of the day and Sal’s birthday; a lot of fun.