Results 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599

    Trip Journal 3- Tha Ton, Chiang Rai & Home

    A somewhat hair raising descent behind us, we continued on the short distance to Fang- our 'plan' was to hang out for a couple of days here, then celebrate New Years Eve in Chiang Rai. As best I could see though, Fang makes no concessions to the tourist- this is a working town. We kept driving, Mai Ai was only a few kilometre's further and perhaps more promising. Same story- didn't even see a guesthouse here. Next town Tha Ton, close to the Burmese border. Tha Ton is actually in the far north of Chiang Mai province.

    Bingo! I liked this town instantly, and a few signs around in English told me this was a travellers destination too. Mrs and I plan to return to Tha Ton one day- a fine place to chill out.

    Time for a beer, and this place looked as good as any-



    Kwan is a Thai lady with dreadlocks and a slightly scatty character to go with it. Lunch at Angkhang having been what it wasn't, I took a look at the menu. Banana pancakes, muesli and yoghurt amongst other things- we were definitely on the Backpacker trail. I ordered muesli, fruit and yoghurt, Khun E had a banana pancake and the Girls, who's cultural tradition forbids them from sitting by while someone else has food, sloped off and came back with some noodle soup.

    If you make it to Tha Ton, you will almost certainly make it to Kwans. It's kind of the travellers nerve centre of the town, and about the only place to party at night apart from making your own fun. If you're travelling on a budget, you may even end up staying there.



    Rooms are not bad value for 200 bht a nite. No hot water though.

    The beer went down well, nobody was in a hurry to move but accomodation had to be organised and, well, Kwans was just not bourgeoise enough for us Capitalist running dogs. Kwan also recommended that we head up the hill and check out the Wat Tha Ton towards sunset.

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599

    Tha Ton

    Tha Ton sits astride the Mae Kok river, upstream from Chiang Rai. Very much Hill Tribe country around here (Yao, Lissu, Karen and Akha), and the other side of the river from Kwans place was Burmese until the early 20th century, when the border was moved a few miles upstream. The true natives are Shan, but the town has a mixed population now, including a small Chinese Nationalist refugee community, and a small Bangkok refugee community. I daresay some expats too- if you like the quiet life, who wouldn't like this place?

    Theres several touristy things to do around here. You can ride an elephant across the river. Visit a Hill tribe. You can take the boat downstream to CR, and stay overnight at a Hill tribe village if you want-



    Theres a convenient bus service to here from Chiang Mai via Fang as well. You can visit the somewhat bizarre, multi leveled Wat Tha Ton, but more on that later, you can float downstream on an inner tube, but more of that later. And of course just watch the River go by.



    Looking upstream, from the bridge. Time to get a room organised, definitely on the river. This placed looked as good as any-



    Apple resort, as seen from the bridge. Your riverside room will set you back 800 bht in the Xmas season, 500 bht the rest of the year. Not bad, the rooms are spotless, spacious, brand new, with aircon (not needed), gas hot water (appreciated)- and on the river.



    Looking out on the river-







    Wat Tha Ton ascends from right above the town.


  3. #3
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599

    Wat Tha Ton


    An easy drive or a demanding walk from town, Wat Tha Ton belongs firmly to the Disneyland school of Buddhism. It is built on several levels going up the hill from town, each level having it's own gaudy Buddhist statue- and a magnificent view. The penultimate is a stupa on the peak of the hill, with brilliant views in every direction- including over Burma. It is a must see, if only for the views.



    Stupa, stupendous views to follow.



















    Downhill a bit you have the Naga level (then a fat bellied Buddha level and so on)-




  4. #4
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599

    Silly Hat Day

    That night was spent having a Thai meal by the river- the gentleman courteously allowed the ladies to organise the food, and were rewarded with molten tonsils and streaming eyes- the experience reminded me of walking through a tear gas cloud, one of the less pleasant aspects of my naval training. Then on to get quite merry at Kwans- there were some other travellers there, and a good night was had by all. She had two types of brandy when we walked in, none when we left. It was a slow morning, but it evolved into Silly Hat Day, from Kwans. Fraternising with the natives-





    Maybe I was still a bit drunk from the night before, or maybe theres some opium in the local air , but somehow I got the brilliant idea that everyone should buy a silly hat. And then float down the river on innertubes towards sunset with our silly hats on.

    But first some Tha ton tamadah.









    An easy afternoon, a few beers, a nice coffee shop, a nice beef noodle soup lunch, just wandering around.



    ^ Down this soi is a guesthouse were you can rent the innertubes, The Riverside. Everyone was up for it except Ms. Precious from Bangkok, so she took these fot's from our Guesthouse. Now I reckon floating down the river on an innertube (decent current here) is about as much fun you can have with your clothes on, especially if you do it with a silly Akha hat.

    I suppose we drifted for slightly over a kilometre, the idea being we would land at the landing by the Apple resort. It was great fun, and the water was surprsingly not too cold.



    Coming in now- thats me in front, Mrs sabang behind, Khun E has got some ways to go.





    Now at this point we bade farewell to Khun E, last seen drifting in the direction of Chiang Rai. Perhaps I should have mentioned that innertubes are not the most manoeuvrable of vessels.

    Going...



    Gone....



    KHUN E's EPIC ADVENTURE

    A muddy, bedraggled and slightly scratched Khun E returned to us about 90 minutes later. Finding a suitable landfall was more difficult than he anticipated, and he was hoping the Hilltribe villages downriver would take pity on a Drifter. He had no money or mobile phone of course, and night was descending. He finally managed a succesful landfall about 1.5 kilometres downstream, and made his way back to the road via a farm. Even the cows looked amazed to see a muddy farang wearing an Akha hat and carrying an innertube, trudging through their patch. Khun E reckons the expression on the Thai farmers face was priceless.

    Innertube rafting is quite the done thing in Tha Ton.


    Silly Hat Day was of course followed by Silly Hat Night.


    The Boys did dinner on their own tonight (still traumatised from yesterdays chilli factor). We had a nice Thai/Chinese by the river on our side of the bridge. The girls did their culinary thing in the town, I will spare you the details. Then we found a nice humble little place run by a Chinese refugee descendant, who spoke excellent English and kept us entertained. Last drinks on the verandah, a bit wistful 'cus tomorrow was New Years Eve and we were off too Chiang Rai.
    Last edited by sabang; 07-01-2008 at 02:18 PM.

  5. #5
    RIP
    Happyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Last Online
    31-01-2011 @ 09:29 PM
    Location
    Rawai Phuket
    Posts
    6,010
    C'mon - you are holding out on us - all that water and no mention of what the fishing was like !
    20 degrees colder and it could be have a good salmon run this time of the year !

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599
    I'll certainly be in for some fishing next time- I'll prolly bring some rods.

    I do know there are two sorts of fish only found locally, because the girls wanted to find some and eat them. We found one variety which we had at a riverside restaurant, but it might as well have been pig fat for all you could taste through the strong chilli and sour broth on that night.

    Wiki has a piece on Thaton- Tha Ton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited by sabang; 07-01-2008 at 04:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Northern Hermit
    friscofrankie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    Chiangmai, Thailand
    Posts
    7,526
    Nice trip report. Haven't been up there is a few years and I loved it. it looks like I stayed at a place up river from you, west (north?) of the bridge. inexpensive, river views. In Mae Ai we turned west down a soi up some hills and around a few switchbacks to get us to a village the border patrol sergeant told me was an old lookout point for Khun Sa.

    We were in a stone sala that would have been a perfect lookout point it was surrounded by a low stone wall, looked like a god place for a gun or two. The village was actually three villages in one, there were Tai Yai, Karien and Lisu, I remember. There was no guest house hotel but I was told a home stay could be organized if I wanted.

    While wandering around the hills up there I ended up in a small valley with the red flag of Myanmar perched on a hill to the left of me, the red white and blue of Thailand perched on a similar hill to my right. Both flags had a few concrete buildings, a few cannons. Think I was pretty close to the border... border patrol in Humvees with mounted machine guns roared up and down the dirt road on occasion, little or no notice was made of my presence.

    Pics and narrative remind me; I gotta get back there. Every time I go I hate to leave beautiful area hope you got lots of pics of the road to CR from there.
    When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty -- T. Jefferson


  8. #8
    Special member
    jizzybloke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Last Online
    @
    Posts
    7,876
    Superb report and some great pictures thanks sabang.

  9. #9
    Member
    ebeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Last Online
    21-03-2014 @ 06:54 PM
    Location
    Europe or MaeTaeng
    Posts
    98
    I hope they went to DoiMaeSalong on their way to ChiangRai... that is another Jiin Haw/Chinese town mainly founded by the renegades from 93rd Regiment of the Kuomintang.
    A very interesting place. I always had trouble leaving this place which used to be my overnight place when I went on visa runs to Laos or Burma. Not many Thais living there. Some of the hillsides around town are dotted with small Chinese shrines/graves, the road is off cause lined with cherry trees. There is a lot of tea grown up there and the food is superb Yunnanese.

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599
    Didn't make Doi Mae Salong eb- something for next time. I agree- it's a lovely part of the world frankie, and the fact that it's ethnically so mixed adds to the chilled out feel of the place. The drive from ThaTon to CR, just over 90 km, was indeed nice. Firstly, you drive through an alluvial valley before climbing back into mountains before Mae Chan. After you turn right at Mae Chan for the home stretch to CR things become more urbanised.

    We wanted a few hours in CR to check out the place so we departed from the Apple Resort around 10 am.



    Down here were some Hot Springs, but unfortunately a small bridge had partially collapsed, so it just became a quick smoke break-





    We stopped at a '3 Tribes Village'. Frankly just a tourist trap- Little there of interest. Prolly the most interesting think was noticing that quite a few of the Locals were well spaced, Opium I presume.









    Stopped at some Hot Springs for a while, to stretch the legs and relieve bladders. For a few baht you can bathe in the sulphurous water, and/or get a Thai massage.



    Or buy some sulphur boiled eggs at the mildly extortionate price of 3 for 20 bht-



    This small lake was teeming with a species of fish that obviously does not mind smelly water-



    And so on to Chiang Rai, which I would describe as a pleasant if unspectacular town. The town markets were good and interesting, the night markets probably better than most- and around this area you find a few falang restaurants and pubs. After trying the Moon and Sun (full) we came across this place, the Mae Kok Villa's or resort (?), quite close to the markets, and quite adequate for 500 Bht for an aircon room- bear in mind this was New Years Eve.



    The Old Wing I believe has cheaper rooms. Seemed to be a few long stayers here- you could probably negotiate a pretty good rate.-



    But really the most memorable thing about the place was the proprietal families tribe of Daschunds-



    New Years Eve was spent around the night markets area. Most of us had a steak meal, having been denied this particular delicacy for some days my Argentinian striploin went down rather well, assisted by some Spanish red. And of course, for research purposes, we had to check out CR's own small Soi Pattaya. It would appear a northern GoGo consists of gyrating in a small bar in a not so small bikini, but the girls had a nice pleasant attitude compared to their hard bitten cousins from Pattaya (or Bangla) and it was all good clean fun. We saw in the New Year in a beer bar here, grimacing at the loud firecrackers being let off everywhere but admiring the many fire lanterns drifting across the sky.

    Passing the main produce markets around 2 a.m, the girls did a spot of early shopping fom the vendors there, already setting up for the next years trade. Ms. Bangkok showed fine initiative by managing to find a place to buy some whiskey, if not great sobriety. A few nightcaps at the Villa's, and to bed. Except for ms. Bangkok, who paid the next day with a whopping hangover but enjoyed her further nocturnal ramblings around the markets.
    Last edited by sabang; 08-01-2008 at 06:50 AM.

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599

    Homeward Bound

    All good things must come to an end however, and we had to get Khun E to Phitsanulouk airport on the morning of the 2nd to fly to Bangkok, to get himself packed and organised for a few hours before flying to Euroland. Ms. Bangkok was predictably in a bad way (and mood) so Mrs and I just wandered around, drunk some coffee, and soaked up a bit more of Chiang Rai on this New Years morning 2008.

    We set off around 12.30 - the Proprietess having done us a favour really by giving Ms. B her eviction orders late morning. Destination Utteradit for an overnight stop via Phrae. The pictorial section of my journey has now ended, just some brief impressions of the substantial drive home left.

    Kind of interesting signpost, somewhere around Phayao I think



    Phrae- great place to buy wooden furniture. The road through is lined with shops.

    Phrae- Utteradit- Very nice drive, if slow. Some lovely wooded and mountainous scenery. Mostly single lane, but the road is gradually being widened. Saw a few accidents here, nothing major.

    Utteradit- bustling railway town, nothing really to see but the town had some life to it. Stayed in a slightly fading 4 star hotel for 800 bht, and had a very nice Hot Pot meal in the local shopping centre.

    Next days journey was a hard one. I was the sole driver, Khun E deserved some rest for his big day ahead. Destination Pattaya- the 2nd of January was the end of the New Years holiday. Probably the worst day of the year to be driving to Bangkok, plus Ms. B wanted to wish my mother in law a happy New Year. Dropped E at Phitsanulouk airport, not really looking forward to the drive ahead. It wasn't too bad actually.

    Slow going through Nakhon Sawan, traffic noticeably getting denser as we went further south. Turned off the main Bangkok route at Singburi, met the Bangkok traffic again (from Isaan) at Saraburi. Slow going through this gritty cement town.

    Then to Nakhon Nayok and Prachinburi, from whence down Route 331 to Pattaya. The area south of Prachinburi came as a surprise- lowlying but very scenic, and like stepping back in time a generation. Slow drivers, agricultural vehicles- then my wife told me the area was Laotian! Quite surprising a Laotian community would have made it this far from Laos, but it did explain the hicktown feel of this pleasant area. Note to self- must come back and check it out again, it's not that far from home.

    The first thing I did when hitting Mabprachan area was enjoy a couple of well earned beers at a familiar bar (the Moonraker). Then a couple more at my local shop while Mrs sabang went home and unpacked. Then Home for a tired sabang to meet some some familiar faces-



    As every Traveller knows, one of the joys of travelling is the Homecoming.
    Hope you enjoyed the journey.
    Last edited by sabang; 08-01-2008 at 07:09 AM.

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat
    astasinim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Last Online
    21-07-2019 @ 04:40 PM
    Location
    Yorkshire
    Posts
    4,067
    Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip. A very pleasant and interesting read, with great pics.

  13. #13
    RIP
    klongmaster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    Nonthaburi
    Posts
    4,382
    Well done...TDs strength is in the reports of its well-travelled members...and you are a game man to be travelling back to bangkok during the New year...

    You have shown places that I've never been to, and some that I've just passed through so have to say, again, that i must learn to stop in some of these places...

    Thanks for you effort in posting all this and hope 2008 is an enjoyable one for you...

  14. #14
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599
    Cheers guys. And indeed a happy and prosperous year to all TD'ers.

    I'm glad the return journey was to Pattaya first- I believe the traffic from Ayutthaya down to Bkk is a nightmare at the end of the New Years holiday. Apart from Nakhon and Saraburi, I didn't cop it too bad.

    Last thought- Thailands road sytem is actually pretty good, a credit to this nation really. Don't be put off the thought of a road trip in this 'not really 3rd world' country- the infrastructure is fine, hotels reasonably priced and (usually) quite available. Just watch out for the local drivers- defensive driving rules.

  15. #15
    Member
    ebeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Last Online
    21-03-2014 @ 06:54 PM
    Location
    Europe or MaeTaeng
    Posts
    98
    Re. The Dachshunds at the resort... did you encounter a French speaking, nervous Scandinavian tall woman in her 60ties around them? And perhaps a little shorter French speaking man too?
    Well a MaeSalong trip could be my chance of greenies on this site so you just missed it until next time you go North, because it is worth a visit.
    Very nice travelogue.

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599
    ^ Saw a guy that might fit that description, don't recall a woman. We didn't spend much time at the place really.

  17. #17
    Northern Hermit
    friscofrankie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    Chiangmai, Thailand
    Posts
    7,526
    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    We stopped at a '3 Tribes Village'. Frankly just a tourist trap- Little there of interest. Prolly the most interesting think was noticing that quite a few of the Locals were well spaced, Opium I presume.
    Different Place I think unless it's been remodeled some there was not one tourist or non resident there except the government people I went with. They were there to issue ID cards, Passports and Drivers Licenses. This was 3 - 4 years ago, though. It was a long drive off the CM - Tha Ton hiway an obscure little soi that turned into a country road heading west then slowly swept south along the border.

    While walking around I got a lot of strange looks, remember smelling the scent of Maturing Ganja in the air. Right on the border, beautiful area, quiet and no tourists at all, be a shame if it's gone that route. There were no shops selling trinkets but there were two local, home-brewed 'mini marts' and a couple of noodle shops. Really hope they were different places always wanted to go back be bummer if I finally did only to find it's gone commercial. have to head up there and find out, now.

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat
    sabang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Today @ 06:43 AM
    Location
    BackinOz
    Posts
    31,599
    ^ That sounds more like the real thing. This place was between thaton and mae chan about 1 km off the main road, quite clearly signposted, and seemed to be a favoured stop off point for mini buses plying that route- there were about six of them there. Just a series of stalls selling the same stuff as they Hilltribe hawkers sell in CR or wherever.

    It was a real village, and the view across to some of the wooden houses on stilts was OK, but just too many tourists and souvenir stands. Even parking was tight when we arrived.

  19. #19
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    o dan y bryn
    Posts
    29,256
    Super stuff Sab.
    still haven't made it to Tha Tong.

    will certainly try now.
    thanks.

  20. #20
    Thailand Expat
    rawlins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Last Online
    13-04-2020 @ 05:52 PM
    Posts
    2,942
    Excellent report of an interesting road-trip... Have enjoyed reading this one.

    Thanks for posting.

  21. #21
    Member
    ebeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Last Online
    21-03-2014 @ 06:54 PM
    Location
    Europe or MaeTaeng
    Posts
    98
    It was a joke... sorry sabang. I will never do it again . If you google Margrethe the 2nd you will see a lot of those small dogs just like you would see a lot of corgies around the other 2nd....
    Last edited by ebeth; 08-01-2008 at 11:33 PM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •