Today was our first full day in Chiang Rai and I woke up with a finger that was painfully throbbing nastily, swollen and very red. It needed a good dose of looking at but first we needed sustenance and nothing sustains one more than some noodley goodness. Just round the corner from the hotel was a cafe which was just too good to pass up, the stock for the noodles was delicious on its own but then the side vegetables and herbs made it into any soup you wanted, so here we broke our fast and then back to the hotels for transport. From the hotel we hired ourselves a couple of bicycles as I had to admit that my finger did need attention – so at some point we needed to go to the hospital.
It was a nice and bright enough morning to be out cycling and although there was a lot of traffic on the road it did not seem too dangerous a way to the hospital. My finger seemed to have worsened during the night so it was here to the hospital to went. It took a bit of a wait but soon enough I was registered and then examined by a doctor whereupon I was informed that I had a splinter that had caused poisoning of my finger so I was then prepared by the nurses and operated upon – locally anaesthetized, the poison drained, finger dressed – and all out, done and dusted in a matter of an hour and a half – amazing by anyone’s or any country’s standards. The hospital itself too was really clean and modern looking, the only fly in the ointment being that we saw an elderly Englishman wandering about in something of a daze so we asked a nurse to have look out for him but it appeared it was something the fellow did on a regular basis as he had a form of dementia, poor fellow.
All done and finger operated on, we mounted our bikes and rode off across the busy road the hospital was on to Wat Phra Kaew. This was another beautiful Wat with some beautiful flowers and it had its own Emerald (Jade) Buddha with many green neon lights round i! It originally housed the one which is now in Bangkok, the one which we had seen so early in our travels and for some reason seeing it again it reminded me that we had almost come full circle on our tour of South East Asia and that was a bit of a sad thought for us both. The Wat also contained a museum of artefacts as well and this was quite an interesting find as the objects contained were really beautifully made and well explained by the cards around them. Whilst we were there at the Wat there was a quick sharpe storm and this made the trees and flowers look even more beautiful it was just a really tranquil and relaxing type of place – still, onwards and upwards!
It was only a short way down the busy main road to get to our next ‘attraction’ – Wat Phra Singh. This was another really nice place and in a very nice setting as well but by now we were getting a wee bit overwatted and we needed something to eat as well – noodles are just the thing for a bike ride and the meat (duck) in the noodles made it even more delicious. We then made a big decision, to go to the other side of the river, to try and find something to see! The bridge over the town’s river – River Mae Nam Kok – though was a bit of a ride it was quite a high bridge, high enough to allow a P&O liner to pass underneath or something, it was that HIGH. Anyhow we got over it and set off riding again but the roadsigns seemed to be giving us little hope of any chances of seeing anything – everything was just so far away. So we followed along the river in the hope of finding a smaller bridge to get back over the river, this was no easy feat as the next bridge was just as big. Now by this time we were trying not to complain but the biggest thing we had seen on the river thus far was a canoe – do they have double or triple decker canoes round here or something?
Once back over the river we came across a Boots chemist, so we stocked up on medical supplies in order to re-dress my wound when possible. From there we continued back onwards to our latest little ‘home’ for a little ‘rest’, along the way picking up our laundry which seemed to have quadrupled in size – so we now had a couple of huge bags to lug back to the hotel as well but, as ever, we made it with as little fuss as possible.
We were back out at night time which is always the right time to see the locals doing what they do best and that is enjoying the Night Bazaar – this is a brilliant thing to do and I highly recommend it. Whilst here we hit upon one of the very many open air restaurants in front of the stage where I had, what was at that time, the very best Mussaman Curry I had ever tasted – that is until I made one even better in Chiang Mai later on in our trip – but at this moment this was just the best tasting thing I had eaten and that from a continent of great tasting food. The accompanying music, a poor Thai duo singing English songs was almost as bad as the food was good but did not stop us enjoying the whole affair. Next up on the stage was another set of Traditional dancers, this lot a young set of school kids and it was really charming to watch the faces of the dancers looked made of porcelain, they were so clean and young looking. Once eaten though we explored the market some more and here found lots of nooks and crannies including another part which was a food market – tables in the middle surrounded by all sorts of Asian fare food stalls on the outside. We both made a mental note that this place would need further serious ‘investigation’ whilst we were stationed here in Chiang Rai – to be continued (lol).