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Thailand: Chiang Rai river tour

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Chiang Rai river tour | Thailand | Asia

[Visited: April 1996]

I have almost never been more tired than the moment in which I stepped inside the train compartment on a Sunday evening outside Bangkok Airport. After a direct flight from Amsterdam, I had gone from the hotel to the train station to make a reservation, then I went back to the hotel and enjoyed the tropical temperatures and the refreshing pool. When, finally, I put by bag on a rack upon entering my compartment in the early evening, I just slept the entire stretch from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, which took longer than the flight had taken. Still a bit dizzy, I walked around in the town to find something interesting to do in the few days I had.

Picture of Chiang Rai river tour (Thailand): Landscape near Chiang Rai

I decided, among other things, for a boat trip to Chiang Rai. After a night fighting against mosquitoes, I walked through early-day Chiang Mai to take the first bus. At Tha Ton, I had to wait a little and then could catch one of those famous long-tailed boats down the river. As so many other things in Thailand, also this trip has become very touristy. So much so, that when we stopped in a village on the way, we were greeted by local tribe people who had come from other villages in the neighbourhood, waiting for our boat! And as soon as you would say no to the wares they tried to sell, they reacted in quite an aggressive way.

Picture of Chiang Rai river tour (Thailand): Elephants in a village on Mae Kok river

Anyway, despite the less authentic encounters, the trip itself was still wild. Crossing through the rainforest, in some parts walking because the boat had to cross some waterfalls, and in the end we saw elephants near the river. And as the evening was approaching, the light became increasingly beautiful. In Chiang Rai I also got to know the tradition for Thai New Year: throwing water on someone else's head. The fun part is that you are allowed to return the "wishes" to whomever gave them to you.

Picture of Chiang Rai river tour (Thailand): Long-tail boats on a river near Chiang Rai
Picture of Chiang Rai river tour (Thailand): Colourful handmade paper fans
Picture of Chiang Rai river tour (Thailand): River in the north of Thailand near Chiang Rai

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