To be perfectly honest, I was a little worried about what our second day in Chiang Rai would offer us. The main reason is the experience is totally brand-new, not just for the Soul Foodies in my group, but for me as well.
However, I can truly say that our second day in Chiang Rai was totally exciting. We rode a lot of vehicles to our many destinations that day. We also crossed the border to Myanmar, which we Thais call Pra Ma. Plus, we went back in time.
Feeding the spirit at two destinations across the border
Crossing the border between Thailand and Myanmar was the first thing we did that day. Our purpose was to visit two spiritual sites, namely the Nuns’ Temple and a replica of Myanmar’s famous gilded Shwedagon Pagoda.
To get to these destinations, we had to ride a motorized rickshaw. It was the first time for all of us, including me, to get on such a vehicle. It’s hot in there, and you’re exposed to dust, but it’s a great way to travel around the city.
At the Nuns’ Temple, we got there just in time to hear the Buddhist nuns’ morning chanting. The chant was performed by 20 or so young women who were accepted into the community.
The replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda is only a tenth of the size of the original pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Even so, it’s truly impressive. It sits high up on the mountains, and if you walk around, you’ll be able to see parts of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. From your viewpoint, you’ll also see a lot of similar golden pagodas visible in the surrounding area. For me, visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda represents a step back in time, back to old-school Thailand with minimal technology.
Lunch at La Vallee
After our short, spiritual retreats, we returned to the Thailand-Myanmar border and rode an e-tan to Doi Sa Ngo village. An e-tan, also called tak tak, is like a van, except it’s rustic and open and has benches for seating.
At Dai Sa Ngo village, we headed to La Vallee for lunch. The fare was simple, but it was so magical. We had grilled pork that’s been marinated in different herbs and spices. We also had grilled chicken that will impress even those who don’t like to eat grilled chicken. Accompanying these dishes are two kinds of rice. One is turmeric rice, with its pretty yellow color. The other is the sticky rice we are all too familiar with.
Our plate has a surprise, though—a serving of clear noodles wrapped in banana leaves. When you open the wrapping, the fragrance of the noodles envelops you and awakens your senses. The noodles are as delicious as they are fragrant.
After lunch: Golden Triangle and the Union of Hill Tribe Villages
After that simple yet soul-feeding lunch, we headed on to the Golden Triangle Viewpoint. This viewpoint marks the spot where the borders of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand meet. In the past, this area was notorious for its opium trade, and the Opium Museum, which we also visited, was a testament to that.
While we were in the area, we had to stop at a 7-11 for snacks. I had a Magnum ice cream.
Our last destination for the day was the Union of Hill Tribes Villages. The villages are like a living museum where five hill tribes live and allow visitors to have a glimpse of their way of life. We connected with the villagers as best as we can and shopped for some unique souvenirs.
Watch the episode here: https://bit.ly/NFSSeason2Ep18