Chiang Rai at first greated us with harsh sun and dusty streets. It sort of reminded us of what we'd expect a harsh, little city in Mexico to look like. As we wandered the streets in search of our hostel, we found cheap shakes and cheap food, and quickly realized this would be a good place to spend the next couple of days.
Our hostel (Mercy) was a big hostel with a chill vibe. Most big hostels are party hostels, but this one was laid back with pool tables, outside seating and a swimming pool. Everyone was friendly and the staff were helpful.
On the first day, we meet some people, reflected on our recent meditation retreat, went to the local night market, hit a few bars, and ate some 7-11 toasties. Pretty standard backpacker night.
The next day we got up early, grabbed a scooter and started adventuring. First stop was the White Temple. An insanely beautiful and intricate temple by a renowned Thai artist. Next to the temple was an exhibit with his artwork, which was equally interesting and stunning (half Buddhist and half psychedelic). This temple was still under development while we were there and the artist doesn't expect to finish until 2070 (using his successors).
After the White Temple, we went to a 70m waterfall and the Black House. The waterfall was tranquil and magnificent. The trees shaded us from the harsh sun perfectly as we enjoyed the scenery for twenty minutes before any other tourists showed up. The black house left more to be desired. Because of the scathing online reviews we read, we expected a dark, cult culture house with interesting and gorey exhibits. Instead it was a collection of one “artist's” weird stuff, and a few artistic pieces that were mostly a tribute to himself.
That night we visited a cat cafe and we treated ourselves to hot pot (finally!) with excellent results. Another treat we'll take home with us.
Grant and Danielle