After preparing our bags for the next leg of the tour we left Chiang Maiand started making our way up towards Chiang Rai. On the way we stopped overnight at a small town called Thaton and stayed at the most stunning guest house which was located right on the river. It was so quiet and beautiful and just a really nice place to chill out for the night. While most of the tour group went off to see yet another Buddha, myself, Alicia, Jill & Abby felt we'd seen enough Buddha's and just stayed behind playing cards and drinking beer by the river.
The next day was quite a long one as we made the long-awaited visit to the Golden Triangle. I say long-awaited but mostly for the reason that we were excited about getting a few extra stamps in our passports. We were pretty much robbed blind as it cost us 500 baht to cross the border in to Burma and we were even more annoyed to find there was actually nothing over there once we got across. After making our way back across the border in to Thailand again we made way towards the Golden Triangle. This was the point where Thailand, Burma & Laos meet and if I had to describe it all I could say was that it was a large mass of sand in the middle of the river. It was still pretty all the same. We were actually quite suprised to find out that we were closer to China at this point than we were to Bangkok.
We then took motor boats across the river to Loas. Again there wasn't too much to see here apart from a great view and some stalls selling snake pickled whiskey. As they were handing out samples I thought it would be funny to try some but as soon as it was in my mouth I regretted it, it was so vile I can't explain and left my throat burning for ages after! Our last stop of the day was a visit to the Opium Museum. It wasn't the most exciting of museums but it was still quite interestin. After leaving here we made the drive on to Chiang Rai where we were to stay for a couple of nights.
Where we stayed in Chiang Rai was fairly quiet with not much to do so we ended up spending our free day watching movies on HBO. I must admit, I actually quite enjoyed watching some tv, I felt normal again!! On our last night here we went for some drinks with the rest of our tour group and we went to this really cool place called the Teepee Bar. It had a roof top seating area with live rabbits running around everywhere, it was really cool!
The following day we started our long old journey back to Bangkok with another delightful overnight train ride. This time it took longer than the first as we broke down for a good few hours on route therefore making the total trip about 18 hours. Thank god we had beds!! We passed some of the time by sitting ourselves in the "disco carriage" as they call it and drinking beer. The "disco carriage" is usually meant to play music and stuff but as we'd broken down they also had a power cut so we just sat there drinking and chatting in the dark with a few candles for light. It was great!
Once we arrived back in Bangkok we had one more night before the tour officially ended so we went for a group farewell dinner and then headed off for some drinks at this sports bar so Jill could watch the West Ham game. She was the only sole standing in this bar with a West Ham shirt on so imagine her delight when a massive group of West Ham supporters bowled in to catch the game. She was in her element I think!!
As the tour was now finished we decided to give ourselves a few days longer in Bangkok before we headed off to Vietnam. We moved hotels and basically spent the next few days chilling out, shopping, eating and drinking!! We met up with some good friends that we'd made on our tour and went for dinner and drinks before they left Bangkok to head down south. We chose this authentic Thai buffet style restaurant as we all thought it looked pretty cool. We paid the equivalent of about 1 pound 20 each for an all you can eat buffet. The catch is you select all you fish, meat and veg then cook it yourself on a table top gas cooker. It was too much hard work in the heat for most of us and it really was a true mirracle that no-one got food poisoning as I'm sure nothing was cooked properly! A truley strange experience I won't forget.