The Golden Triangle - Burma, Laos & Thailand
Our trip to Chiang Saen turned out to be somewhat of a surprise. Travelling with 34 orchid enthusiasts from Perth we had been in Bangkok for 5 days and took a early flight to Chiang Rai. Our itinerary indicated we were accommodated in Chiang Rai.
The fun started at Chiang Rai airport when we were met by a driver who said he was there to collect a party of 4 for transfer to Chiang Saen on the Golden Triangle. Our Tour Director was the Orchid Society President and he immediately recognized a "Stuff Up".
After an hour wait a beautiful, new double decker bus turned up and the hour long journey to Chaing Sean commenced. Upon arrival at the Golden Triangle we were very pleased with our hotel and location. Not for long as the organised afternoon visit to the White Temple, located on the over side of Chiang Rai was due to commence after a quick lunch.
What a waste this turned out to be, all that time in the bus (2 more hours) to see a 10 year old temple.
With hindsight we should have forgone the White Temple, stayed in the Golden Triangle region and enjoyed the Old City of Chiang Saen, or taken a half day tour to Laos or Burma, or visited the Opium Museum.
Chiang Saen was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom from 1327 to 1341, and subsequently became a less important city over the centuries. Today many historic sites remain in the old city. Due to time constraints we did not visit the old city.
"Smoke Haze & Low River Water Level"
Of the 21 days in Thailand 14 were in rural districts to the north and north east. The sky was constantly overcast due to the smoke haze. We were informed that for 3 weeks during March burning off is common place with some blame put on neighbouring countries.
We survived the smoke with no ill affect, the only noticeable problem being no blue sky in our photos.
We visited the Mekong on 4 or 5 occassions during our holiday and the water level was noticeable low. The locals blamed the low level on the dams China has built or are building which have reduced river flow.