This morning we left the beautiful city of Chiang Mai to spend the day travelling north through Chiang Rai to the border town of Houay Xai in Laos. Any border crossing will always be a long day, but we luckily were able to stop firstly at the hot springs and then at the magnificent White temple of Chiang Rai. I want to focus on the temple so I won’t go into too much detail about the border crossing and if you are traveling from Thailand to Laos then you can read up more info here.
The White temple of Chiang Rai or ‘Wat Rong Khun’ is quite honestly spectacular. I have heard, read and seen photos on insta and to be honest I thought it would be another tourist trap, but it is not. NOT AT ALL! Pretty much the temple looks brand new…because it kinda is. It was in such a disastrous state that one of Thailand’s greatest artists – Chalermchai Kositpipat bought it and decided to renovate the whole thing with his own cash!
It costs 100baht to enter which is $5NZD but since 1997 more than 40million Baht has went into creating the most unique temple we have ever seen.
What is very interesting about this temple is that there are a lot of hidden meanings intertwined in the delicate temple’s details. The white colour represents the purity of Buddha while the mirrored surfaces seen throughout represent his wisdom shining across the world. Essentially the meaning is about escaping greed, desire and temptation to reach Nirvana.
It was a really special experience and I am stoked that after 8 Thailand trips I was able to finally tick this off the list.
From there we made our way to the border and over to the sleepy town of Houay Xai where we were staying in Oudomphone Guesthouse. It cost $13USD for a double room but to be honest it needs some work and there are plenty of other accommodations on the main street so maybe do a bit of research if you would like a good nights sleep.
We didn’t expect much from the town as it was just to sleep for the night, but we walked up to the Buddist temple which overlooked the town and were welcomed with an absolute picturesque sunset! Mixed with the local mocks chanting at 6pm, it was simply magical. We have found every time we are in the presence of monks, the atmosphere is one of peace, tranquility and overall happiness. This was a great moment of the trio so far despite it not being a timetabled stop on the agenda…I guess the unexpected stops are the best right?
Tomorrow we will spend 8 hours sailing slowly down the Mekong river by slow boat to reach our homestay for the evening. To be honest I don’t know what to expect as 8 hours with my thoughts is making me anxious just thinking about it but we have a good group and I am hoping that between podcasts, sunbathing and editing I won’t feel too uncomfortable…I will let you know in the next post!