The next morning I walked the 2.3 miles to the bus station. I had no ticket but wanted to get to Chiang Rai today - a town about 3 hours northeast of Chiang Mai. I had thought about keeping the scoot and riding it to and from CR - but that would mean backtracking, as from CR I wanted to go into Laos.
I stopped at the green bus station window to inquire about a ride - the busses with AC and fancy reclining seats.. I was told the busses were full until the next day at 6:30am. I was bummed but also knew that my odds of getting a bus that day were slim, so the next days' bus was booked! I then had to find somewhere to stay - preferably near the bus station- which I did. I walked 1.5 miles the other way to get to the hostel where I'd stay for 12 hours. Had a decent sunset view from the room at Train Hostel.
The next morning I woke up early to walk to the bus station once again. I was ready to leave Chiang Mai and excited to start the next leg of my journey, destination truly unknown aside from Chiang Rai (CR)- where I only wanted to go to see the white temple. I hopped on the bus to CR and while I really wanted to sleep, I instead started researching many things for the next leg of my journey - including where to go, how to get there, how to use my phone data in Laos, how to get a Visa for Laos, what the currency was, etc. After all, I had zero intention of entering Laos until now. LOL.
After a lot of Google research on the bus I found that the local city busses go to the white temple area every 20-30 mins. I bought my ticket for $1USD and waited ten minutes for the next bus. The city bus is something I like to take everywhere I go at least once. It's a great cultural experience - the people watching, the living like a local perspective, and the adventure of riding the seemingly run down busses that puffed huge black clouds every time it shifted gears. I boarded the big red bus and found a seat near the front. The bus reminded me of a school bus back home- the rubber seats for 2, no seat belts, and windows that slid up and down with huge metal latches on each side to hold in in order to slide it. This bus also had homemade curtains on each window that were nearly tied into a small knot in the center of the window allowing me to see out the window but block the sun if I so choose.
The ride to the white temple was all of 20 mins. The bus speed at the side of the highway in front of an abandoned car sales lot and not having a clue where I was, the driver simply pointed at me and said "off here". I got off the bus and awkwardly looking around me I was wondering where I was supposed to walk next. Just then the big red bus pulled away, leaving me in a cloud of dust and black smoke, and once that cleared I could see the top of the white temple just down on the other side of the road. In the blazing hot sun I started traffic hopping my way across the busy highway and to the temple. First I had to use the bathroom - so I unloaded my big pack, leaving it outside, and paid the gal 3B in exchange for 4 squares of TP. Next I put on the proper attire for temple viewing- a sarong to cover my knees and a shirt to cover my shoulders.
In the scorching sun and blistering heat I have kind of gotten used to putting clothes ON. It was so torturous the first several times I had go do it- but my body is slowly adjusting to the climate it seems. I arrived at the white temple and was blown away by how stunning it is!!! Against the bright blue sky, the colors were crisp and refreshing. The architect who designed the temple did so in white to make the actual architecture of the temple stand out ( versus using the gold colors commonly found - which he felt covered up the beauty of the design). He also added in quirky artwork and sculptures throughout the grounds.
And a random gold building to prove his point? I don't know that for sure, the history here was in Thai language which I cannot read.
The things hanging around the tree like object are wishing leaves. You could buy one and write whatever you wanted on it, which is then hung on this tree thing. Once the tree thing is full, they move the leaves to the underside of the walkway.
The white temple had me awestruck at the sight. It was unlike any other temple I'd seen thus far. Very much worth a quick stop!
After walking the temple grounds, I picked up my pack from security and made my way back to the local bus stop. Which was completely unmarked and if it hadn't been for Maps.Me app, I would have never known where to stand. It didn't matter, though, because a bus didn't come and I stood there for a half hour. I eventually flagged down a tuk tuk, which didn't have room for another body, let alone a body AND a huge pack. But, the locals all squeezed in and I got a ride for 20B back to the bus station in CR. There, I was able to buy a bus ticket on the local bus to the Laos border for 65B. And there was room on the next bus, which left at 2pm... a mere 30 minutes. The day was piecing together quite well!!! The bus arrived, I boarded with my gear, and was the only foreigner on the bus, which was headed to Laos over the span of 2 hours.
It was a great ride - people watching, sightseeing, and soaking in the fresh (ish) air along the way.
Once at the 'end stop', I was dropped off in the middle of nowhere - kind of a theme.
There, a tuk tuk driver picked me up and drove me to the Customs border of Thailand and Laos. Being it was past 4pm, the customs were officially closed. Which, in reality meant, that I just had to pay an 'overtime' fee of $1USD. I paid for the Lao Visa, went through customs and got stamped out
There, I had to wait for yet another bus to take me to the Laos border, which was just over Friendship Bridge. I wanted to walk, but was told this was not an option. So I took that bus across the bridge, showed proof of payment for the Lao visa, showed my passport, and got stamped into Laos with my 30 day visa. From there, I grabbed a tuk tuk with others crossing the border, and got dropped off in Huay Xai, once again with no accommodations booked.
I walked to the first hostel I saw and lucked out as they had one bed left and the hostel itself was quite nice. I was able to buy a slow boat ticket for the morning departure from the hostel as well. SUCCESS of a day for winging it!!!!
Friendship Bridge - crossing over from Thailand to Laos
I showered and me and the peeps in my hostel went out to grab dinner - where I was encouraged to try stuff I would never otherwise try. Aside from the chicken feet, it was all decent eats!!!
Part One: How to pack a lot of gear on a motorcycle... and keep it there for the duration of the trip!! How the heck do I get ALL the gear I need on the bike to ride long distance and/or camp?? Where there is a will, there is a way! I started riding and camping with my Suzuki Boulevard M50 - Love that bike, still own it. I had two gallon size saddlebags on her and the rest was pure strategy. I bought a Saddleman luggage pack and a bunch of bungees - which quickly got traded in for LOTS of straps and then a net on top. I first went long distance riding and motorcycle camping with a good friend, nickname HD, years ago. Let me tell you, she was a GREAT teacher in the art of packing a motorcycle. I would make the effort, get to the meeting point, have to retighten every since strap, ride, and repeat. She probably felt both sorry for me and annoyed by me for the extra time I took at stops to make sure my gear wasn't going to wind up on someone's windshield. So between her expertise…
Remember when you first started learning how to ride a
bike? It’s a struggle to keep your balance and if you start to tip over your
first instinct is to jump off the bike, hands first, planting your wrists
against the ground with force, while your skin is soaking up the gravel, one
tiny pebble at a time... and then you run crying the whole way home? Well, when
you’re on a motorcycle do NOT do that. Nothing will go well if you try to jump
off a 700-pound metal beast with flammable liquids between your legs and think
that you’re going to be able superman your body farther than your bike will
land. You can’t fly. Your bike can. You won’t win. The best thing to do is
opposite of what your instinct might be – when you start to tip over, think of
the bus lady yelling the rules at you on the first day of school. “Keep your
hands and legs IN the bus (aka on the handlebars and foot pegs) while in motion”.
And motion includes that of tipping over. At least on my Suzuki and my Victory,
the bike …
A lot of people hang up their motorcycle keys once temps get into the 40's. Those people are kind of smart. I, however, choose to ride until Mother Nature makes it physically impassable to do so, aka snow falls and stays on the ground. In order to ride when its in the teens, 20's, 30's, or even 40's, there is some gear that is a necessity to try to keep remotely warm while riding. And thanks to this gear, I have only gotten frostbite once while riding motorcycle. And to be honest, I doubt ANY cold riding gear would have spared my fingers from riding 70mph in temps of NINE (9) degrees. Yeah, that was stupid. But I was on a mission..... I WAS going to ride to Daytona!! And naturally, it had been in the 50's the week prior, aka when I decided I was going to ride there. Anyways - here is my GO TO cold riding gear!
<--- In Iowa, on way to Daytona. It warmed up to 24 degrees!!! There is no solution for frozen eyeballs.
Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Electrically Heated Leath…
Ah, the annual fall trek to the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ Rally - in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas is my ALL time favorite place to ride in the USA. Four of us girls took off after work to get a head start on the (easy) 11 hour ride. The more daylight we could arrive in, the better, since 3 of us were going to need to set up camp when we arrived to Arkansas.
Sporting my Nomadic Gear thanks to @NomadicMichigan
We all look so bad-ass in our leathers!!!
We stopped for the night just outside of Des Moines - get a few hours of sleep, and back on the road in the morning!
After an easy 7 hour ride to Eureka Springs, we debated between heading straight to camp to set up, or heading straight to the Cat House bar to park and walk over to Aquarius for THE BEST TACOS in the entire region. In the end, Tacos clearly won! Aquarius is a cute little place on Main Street in Eureka Springs, AR. I don't even think the name of the place is on the outside - they get straight to the point …