Chiang Rai is a smaller city just 3 hours from Chiang Mai by bus. It has some amazing sights so Troy and I did some strategic planning in order to see what we wanted in two days.

We caught a morning bus from here and arrived before noon. We dropped our luggage at the guesthouse and went straight back to the bus terminal to catch a local bus to the White Temple. This temple is right out of a fairy tale. It is blinding white with mirror inlays and lots of strange symbolism. As you go to enter the main temple there is a pond with hands sticking up out of it – and one fingernail, on one hand, is painted red. When I visited 3 years ago it was free, now it costs $1 to enter the main temple. People buy small metal discs, sign their name, and hang them in designated places – there are thousands upon thousands of them.

I could not believe the expansion in three years. During my first visit there was only one building that was gold. It was very ornate – it was the toilets. Certainly the fanciest I had seen anywhere in the world. Now there is another gold building. It is the new gallery that displays lots of the artist’s work.

That evening we walked to the big roundabout in the centre of town. In the middle of it is a very large, very ornate, gold clock. Three times every evening there is a light show during which they project different coloured lights onto the clock. We had some dinner and an early night as the next day would be action packed.

Up early and back to the bus terminal for a local bus to the Black House – often referred to as the Black Temple, but there is no temple. It is a large, well-maintained complex. Most buildings are full of ornate tables and chairs. Table covers are made from animal and reptile skins and pelts. There are penis carvings everywhere throughout the complex – no idea what that was all about.

Due to our time restraints, we called a Grab car (Thailand’s version of Uber) to take us to the aptly named Blue Temple. I loved this place. As usual, it was over the top ornate. Such a great place to take photos.

A quick tuktuk ride took us back into Chiang Rai so we could go on the free trolley city tour. I had also done this during my last visit, but they had made many changes since I was here. The first stop was a display of the former royal carriages. I would have loved to ride in any one of them! Of course, we stopped at several Wats. One had an exact replica of the famous Emerald Buddha from the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Photos are not allowed there. We were thrilled to be able to take some photos and we were proud to be told it was made of jade from Canada.

Our day ended with our bus trip back to Chiang Mai. It had been a busy couple of days, full of wonderous sights.

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