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Thailand 2017 - Phrae and Nan

Canada | Monday, November 20, 2017 | 80 photos

Northern Thailand's Chiang Mai city has changed since our previous visit six years ago, gaining more noise and pollution from what seemed an endless stream of traffic belching along its old city walls. But once we met up with our Canadian friend's brother and his partner, their neighbourhood placed us back into the quiet laneways with temples and good eateries that make the city so likeable.

We were in need of a new Thai town though...some place off the radar. And so we traveled southeast by VX class bus to historical Phrae. Easy to nestle into that lovely, slow-paced town, with its narrow, winding alleyways in which to lose oneself, cycling from temple to beautiful temple. So peaceful also walking along the old ramparts and moats. We weren't the only foreigners around but it sure felt like it.

Thailand was once called the Land of Smiles - they still abound in Phrae. It felt like a place we could live for a long term.

Nan province to the northwest beckoned and so off we went by 2nd class bus up twisting roads through lush green hills, arriving at the city of Nan. It was freaking hot there, not the cooler mountain air we had been hoping for - 36 degrees and very humid. But we managed to walk the streets from Wat to Wat and what not. Checking in on the morning market to see what had come in from the hills... grilled turtles anyone? :(

Within Wat Phumin we found ourselves interpreting myriads of murals illustrating local life in the 19th century. Just outside in the garden a small round building sat lovely yet its interior made us gasp at its unexpected diorama of gruesome Buddhist hell! Reminders to devotees tempted to stray from goodness...?

Nan is another quiet town and dinner picnics in the park at the night market is the main event each weekend. After sweeping through the foodstalls, including those servings grubs and insects alongside pad thai and satays, Nanians sit on mats throughout the main square to dine together, listening to amateur local entertainment. So nice to be a part of it. Perhaps another town to live in.

To celebrate Bruce's birthday we moved to a "fancy" hotel with a pool, to bring a  soothing respite from the heat. Especially after having walked with our backpacks 2 km along the river in the midday sun to reach it, arriving as sweaty panting fools. No one walks in the heat, not even school kids - most people have scooters or cars in Thailand. Thai people have appeared more affluent each time we've visited (and seemingly with less of an obesity issue). Though of course many slums still exist.

Glad to have gotten a taste of another bit of Northern Thailand, we were ready to leave the country, just before our 30 day visa expired. We will be back! Langkawi island here we come again, via Nok Air to Bangkok and Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur. Ocean time!

Chiang Mai -
met Ken and Meen
Sakulchai Place hotel with swimming pool
Phrae -
Yom river, Phleung Range and Phi Pan Nam mountains
Wat Pra Non
Wat Luang
Wat Srichun
Wat Phong Sunan - reclining Buddha
Taris Art hotel
Be Cozy mango smoothies
bicycled along Old Wall ramparts and wonderful, quiet neighbourhood alleys
Nan -
Food market
Indigo cloth
Wat Phumin - murals, Hell hut
Wat Prah That Chang Kham Vora Viharn
National museum - former palace

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