Chiang Rai is one of the most charming provinces in Thailand. Here you find all sorts of wonders, natural or cultural. Aside from mountains, caves, waterfalls, rivers, temples and tribes which are promoted by every tourist guide there is something I dare to recommend: the sky. The sky is the most beautiful place in Chiang Rai.
As soon as I crossed the border and entered the province I found out who the boss was. The boring clear sky of the neighboring Chiang Mai broke into thousands of little pieces and the clouds started to play around as if trying to paint a bold masterpiece. The grand finale of this color and sketches show was a majestic rain which poured down uninterrupted while I drove my last hundred kilometers to the city.
Chiang Rai owns a wise charm which this glorious sky amplifies by sending lights and shadows down on it. The golden roofs of the temples spread their surreal shinning on the profound blue of this sumptuous sky. It is the blue that you rather see above the Pacific islands than here, above mountains at 20 degrees North of the Equator. This sky should not be here. And yet it is here.
During the boat trip, I took on the Kok river in the afternoon the sky offered me new reasons to be surprised. The heat of the day gathered all the clouds in the country and they were running together quiet fast and dropping by mistake a few rain drops on my little boat. Through a small window in the clouds the sun was looking over his shoulder down to the Earth before letting the rain take over the sunset.
While visiting the White Temple I realized the sky in Chiang Rai is passionate about visual arts. At least that was the only possible explanation for the gloom contrast it was offering to this allegoric dazzling building in which the stories from Heaven and Hell melt together into a violent eloquence. The sky was embracing the temple with majestic colors.
Tired of looking up at the clouds I thought of joining them up there. Doi Mae Salong village is built so high in the mountains that it seems anchored directly in the starts. The clouds walk unimpeded among people, none seems to notice or care.
The sky doesn’t give up being the leading actor not even above the grand Mekong. While there is a Golden Triangle here on Earth I am positive there is one up there as well where skies from all three countries, Thailand, Myanmar and Lao, meet and exchange colors. The river flows quietly carrying all the golden sunrises, the caramel sunsets and the blue sparkling stars of the night.
The sky is everywhere: in people’s eyes, in the blue and white mix of the houses, in the crepuscular gold of the temples, in the quietness of the paddy fields. If you pass by Chiang Rai, take some time to tour the sky.