Downriver to Chiang Rai

Decided to take the river to Chiang Rai. Mae Salong sounds too hardcore with kids: difficult to find food not involving animal entrails, basic facilities and a windy road. Also there will be Chinese new year celebrations in Chiang Rai. It would be the same road to get there, and the boats looked OK, so we decided to take the river. In the end it turned out to be much more comfortable than any minibus trip we have done.

So while the children played with a baby chick (dyed pink) and a baby duck some of us looked for a hotel while other sorted out the packing. Had time for an early proper lunch (with so many road trips the kids have been doing too much snacking these last few days) before the boat turned up at one. Time just flied by and, after a short stop at an elephant camp (no riding this time) we completed the 3h trip. At the elephant camp I witnessed the same bizarre scene twice involving 2 separate tourists demanding a particular elephant and acting like 4-year-olds. Don't they understand there is a rota system in place and no matter how many Bahts in their pocket that's how things work?

The hotel is pretty luxurious and the price, already OK, gets knocked down a bit more if you like it and share it on Facebook. I guess they can get away with that, though if they tried to pull the same one off for a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor they would probably get caught in no time and blacklisted.

Went to the night market. The kids ate in the main area in front of a stage where they had a bit of a Thai music and dance show on. After they changed to easy-listening Beatles (in Thai accent) we knew it was time to move on. Good thing we did because we found the real main non-farang (foreigner) market square with much more interesting (and cheaper) food stalls and a good mix of backpackers and Thais as opposed to to rich OAPs. Last time I only managed to eat dog, this time I finally got to eat worm and grasshopper.

Lessons learnt today: in rural areas allow extra time for charging batteries, there is less electrical current or something; also, don't trust the colour of packets of snacks or you will end up with cheese 'n onion caramel-flavoured popcorn.

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