After a very good night spent at Ben Guesthouse, which encompasses two beautiful wood buildings) I went for a spin around the city. The travel guide unenthusiastically listed two museums and any number of temples, but to tell you the truth I am about templed out. But the city is a pleasant one, so I twisted and turned without any plan, until I found myself on route 1173, heading east, and that decided the direction I was to follow for the next couple of days. Today the goal is to go to Chiang Khong, where one can cross into
Laos, and from
there to Chiang Saen, also at the border between Thailand
I traversed the beautiful Waterford Valley, with enormously extensive rice paddy fields, when passing about a kilometer from a small hill from the corner of my eye I caught a sign announcing the ….
Forest Park. I blew past it but over the next
few hundred meters I tried to reconstruct the part I had missed and came up
with the Teak Forest Park. Really? A forest of teak trees? Now, that I had to
see, so I made a U-turn and plunged into a narrow concrete alley that after 100
m gave way to a dirt track. At this point I should have turned around, but my
curiosity was aroused and I just had to keep going, until I found myself in a
mire of mud. I proceeded as cautiously as I could, but at some point I lost my
equilibrium and my scooter tipped. I barely had time to put down my foot and
avoid a complete tip over, but my whole side was bathed in mud as I tried to
place my center of gravity under the scooter and tip it upright. Oh, what a
mess. My beautiful scooter was now caked with mud on the right side, not to say
anything about my feet and right hand. I did make it to the park, which was a
very pretty forest but without a miserable teak tree, and successfully crossed
the mire on the way back without mishap, but I felt the most stupid rider on
the road (and many expressions of mirth from bystanders did nothing to improve
Chiang Khong was nothing special, except perhaps that this is where I first encountered serious mountains and a road in the process of being reconstructed. The mountains are fabulously green, and under the rays of the sun they glimmered like emeralds. Rice is here replaced by corn as the main crop, but in the recent past these mountain valleys were big producers of Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy.
Chiang Saen, in contrast, turned out to be quite the precious jewel. First of all I met my old friend, the
Yes, the same river that forms a delta at the latitude of Saigon is here an
enormously wide river with a lively barge traffic, and no, it does not
originate in Mekong River Cambodia but in
the south of Chine, and at this location forms the boundary between Thailand and Laos. I am really surprised that
this enormous river does not take a shortcut to the Gulf
of Thailand, but rather flows south
parallel to the coast all the way to Saigon. I
bet it is controlled by a tectonic rift, pretty much the way the Rhine River
is in Germany.
I need to research this idea further.