Songkran in SipSongPanNa – Day 01

Sunday, 8 April 2007 Kuala Lumpur – Chiang Mai – Chiang Khong

The chief stewardess proudly announced that flight AK896 arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule arrival time after the plane touched down on Chiang Mai international airport. With the new fleet of Airbus, it is not surprising that the captain is able to catch up the lost time and repeat his feat every time.

60 days in 6 months
Although we have intentionally hand-carried our luggage so that we don’t have to wait for our luggage, we were still held back in the immigration department. I was shown a regulation card written in English by the immigration that foreigners are allowed to stay in Thailand for 60 days within a period of 6 months. It took awhile for the immigration to count how many days I have been in Thailand for the past 6 months. (Malaysians do not need Visa to visit all ASEAN countries except Myanmar. But it seems that a new regulation must have added or old regulation strictly enforced to limit the stays in the Kingdom)

A ride on SongThiaw (2-row-bench pick up van) to Nam Khong travel near Tapae Gate costs us 100 bahts, a good deal considering that if we were to take taxi, we will need 2 taxis and that will cost us many times more.

Lost & Found
My team mate Lai only realized that he has left his packback on the SongThiaw some 10 minutes after the SongThiaw has left. Although I have earlier get the SongThiaw driver to speak with Nam Khong staff for direction, the calls were made to the fixed line and there was no ways to find out the telephone number of the SongThiaw driver. Lai’s beg contained some medications and personal items that totaled up to 2,000 bahts.

We had lunch in a cozy restaurant next door while waiting for the driver to show up. I took Lai to a Erugstore to buy his medications after lunch. On our return from Drugstore, Nam Khong’s Ms. Pui showed us Lai’s beg which were returned by the driver. We felt sorry for not leaving some cash and a thank-you message for the driver should he return. There is no way to thank him; except that we hope he get his merits paid many folds in future. It’s nice to stay in predominantly Buddhist country.

The chances of having your beg left in a taxi returned is almost zero in Kuala Lumpur – it only happened in dreams and occasional news in newspaper. Barely 2 weeks ago, my wife’s handbag containing hand phone, cash and credit cards was snatched in Kuala Lumpur.


Lunch at Chiang Mai while waiting for Van

To Chiang Khong
There are 2 vans to Chiang Khong today. I got a seat next to driver which is good and bad. Good is that I am taking video and I got unobstructed view of the journey. Bad is that you will get a lot more sun and heat. As expected you get a lot of farangss for the trip.


2 Vans heading to Chiang Khong

The vans stopped twice along the route to Chiang Khong. Once at a souvenir and coffee shop where we can also witness the cracking of cashew nuts


Cashew Nut Tree. Every nuts is openned by hand. Sadhu to the worker.

and another time at Khuntan, about 40 KM from Chiang Khong.


Stop @ Khuntan

We experienced occasional splashing of water along the road. Once, the water came in through the window opening – apparently, the air-conditioning was far from cool and one farang open the window slightly.

On arrival at Chiang Khong town, we checked into Nam Khong Riverside Hotel (600 bahts for 2, and 800 for 3 with breakfast cheap) instead of Nam Khong Guest at 50 bahts per head. The hotel is really value for money. Our rooms have a good vista of the Mekong River and Huay Xay across the river in Laos.


Nam Khong Riverside Hotel

Eat & Do
After dinner at the Hotel Restaurant, we head for a foot massage opposite the hotel which I experienced one of the worst foot massages I ever had.

Chiang Khong is already sleeping by 9:00 PM. I really enjoy the cool air and the quietness and serenity which I seldom had in Kuala Lumpur. This is what life should be.

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