HOT INFO On The Road

Margaret and Keel's Asian Adventure
Riding Tigers: REPORT #11
November 14, 1999, Chiang Rai, Thailand

38.5 Bahts = 1 U.S.$

Rafting on the Kok river
Have arrived in Chang Rai after a magnificent raft trip down the Kok river on a bamboo raft. This trip lasted three days and two nights. I started in Tha Ton, which is about a four hour bus ride north of Chang Mai. Bus ride cost 55 Baht. Be sure to climb to the temple in Tha Ton for a spectacular view of the country side, which is quite mountainous and full of rice fields. At this point your definitely in the golden triangle. Don't look too closely at the vehicles that contain army men with big guns, it will only make you nervous. In Tha Ton stay at the Garden Home, where very nice bungalows go for 300 Baht. A variety of agencies are available to take you down the river. My advice is to make sure you take one of the bamboo rafts and not the long tail boats. The long tail boats will make you deaf. The bamboo rafts are truly amazing. We had two guides and a small house with toilet on board. We ran solid class 2 and occasional class 3 rapids, without life jackets. These guides could "read" the water expertly and so our lumbering raft made delicate eddy turns and avoided the gnarly spots with ease. Just before the big rapids the guides are giving out hot tea and fruit. we barely got wet as the design of the raft attenuates the big waves. We stayed in local villages along the way and expect for the police and military types carrying big guns, we had no concerns. It was truly a high adventure experience. There were a total of three rafts and six guides who loved me after treating them to beers while they cut bamboo for other rafts. My Thai is improving as I tended to hang with the guides instead of the "fallangs"

Chaing Rai
Am now in Chang Rai getting ready to go to Laos which means washing clother, catching up on email. \i would suggest the following guest house if you intend to stay in Chang Rai:

Lotus Guesthouse, run by an English and Korean. It is next to the Mae Hhong Son guesthouse that is described in the lonely planet. Fortunately the lonely planet missed this place. I have decided that a recommendation from the Lonely planet is the kiss of death for a place. The people begin to pour in and the service gets bad and the place goes to hell because they don't have to be competitive any more. I looked at rooms at the Mae Hong son guest house which gets a glowing recommendation from the lonely planet and was amazed at how poor condition the rooms were.. I am still trying to figure out what that red stuff on the floor was.

| watched as many travelers, lonely planet guidebook in hand, walked past the idyllic Lotus Guesthouse to take a room at the Mae Hong son because" its in the guidebook" enough said but the lonely planet is definitely overrated, yeah, you need something to help you find which part of town the guest houses are located but people rely on it way too much...

Northern Thailand is a very scenic place with lots of mountains. We are going to enjoy a few days here before heading into Laos. We intend to cross the border at Chiang Khong and take a slow river ferry three days down river to Luang Prabang. It should be great but they say "Laos is like Thailand was thirty years ago" we will see, and of course I will provide you with the reality of being "on the road. Until then "Chok Dee" This means good luck in Thai, and is a mandatory toast when drinking alcohol with local Thais.

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