I didn’t spend much time sightseeing in Chiang Rai. I’d just come from a busy couple weeks in Chiang Mai and the Elephant Nature Park, so I visited the White Temple but otherwise relaxed in this small town in the northeast corner of Thailand.
I’d met another solo traveler at the bus stop in Chiang Mai, and together we found the hostel I’d booked and hiked the four flights of stairs to the dorm rooms on the roof. Julie, from Belgium, spoke more English than I speak French, but not much, so our conversations were a hodgepodge of our native grammars and what little vocabulary we could remember from the other’s mother tongue.
We stumbled our way through a conversation at the night market and then gave up and just enjoyed the end of the lip-synching performance taking place on the stage at the end of the enormous food courtyard.
Then we wandered among the various tables with their homemade crafts and mass-produced goods, and of course bought at least one souvenir each.
On my last night in town, I saw a man wandering through town with a small elephant; he led the elephant up to tourists, who could give money to feed the elephant or to climb up and perch atop the elephant. I steered clear of this man and his captive elephant; I knew from my time at the ENP that he likely had a nail hidden in the palm of his hand to use as a goad behind the elephant’s ear to get it to go where he wanted it to.
Happily, my last image of Chiang Rai was a nicer one. As I waited for my bus out of town, I saw a couple leaning into each other, sharing one set of headphones between them as they waited for their own bus. It was sweet.