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Paul & Tracey's Travels
27th Jan 2017 - Thailand
Road trip to the Burmese border

Today we left Chiang Mai and headed due north to a town called Thaton near the Burmese border. This is only a couple of miles from where Ali is working in a local school, and we will meet with her over the next few days.

Catching the bus

After checking out of our hotel, we caught a Tuk Tuk over to the bus station in the north of the city where we got a bright orange bus to Thaton which is at the end of the line. For some reason, the woman in the ticket office would not sell us a ticket until after 8.15am - we had got there early to ensure we would be able to get on the 9am bus. Once we eventually had a ticket (Which for the 4 hour trip was less than the 10 minute Tuk Tuk drive to the station from the hotel!) we were straight on the bus and did not risk getting off again even with half an hour to departure as all the buses seemed to be bursting at the seams and we did not want to lose our seats. Indeed when we pulled out of the bus station, there were at least 15 people who were having to stand, for what could be up to 4 hours. The bus was fairly comfortable, but there was no air conditioning so we had to rely on the air coming through the windows and the open doors to alleviate the 30C heat.

Up into the mountains

The town's on route get progressively smaller and about half way along the journey, we pulled into a small town bus station for a 5 minute leg stretching break. Up to this point, the route had been fairly mundane, being a main road with shops and stalls along it for 2 hours. When we set off again, the scenery started to improve a lot as we headed over the mountains. The north of Thailand is very mountainous and is part of the system of hills that extend into Laos, Burma and China linking to the Himalayas. The bus did strain a bit as it was going up the hills.

Along the way passengers asked the driver to stop wherever they wanted to be dropped, and several times the bus pulled over for a couple of minutes for the driver to buy something at a stall, or drop off a parcel! As the journey progressed, passengers got off but no one was getting on, so by the end of the journey, we were the only two people left on the bus! Obviously not a popular destination!

Arrival in Thaton

Thaton bus station turned out to be a small dusty square, with no sign of taxi or Tuk Tuk to take a weary traveller onwards. It is only a small town (population 20,000), and is not a destination for tourists as you cannot cross over into Burma here. Luckily a man happened along to unlock a door into a room which turned out to be an office connected to the "bus station", and he confirmed that the place we were staying at was only 1km further up the road. It seemed a long walk in the 1pm heat, but we eventually found it. 

By the banks of the Mae Kok

We are staying in a chalet right next to the Mae Kok River which flows from Burma and crosses into Thailand here at Thaton. The grounds are beautifully laid out with trees and flowers. For the rest of the afternoon we sat outside looking over to the river a few feet away, where there were some locals out in the middle fishing, and occasionally a traditional long tail boat would zoom past.

At 4.30pm Ali arrived, having just finished work at the school and had got a lift over from another teacher. We sat and chatted, and then went for a meal in the restaurant attached to the chalets, had amazing views across the river to the mountains, and could also see some fireworks going off in the distance to celebrate Chinese New Year, which starts tomorrow, the year of the rooster.

Tomorrow we may explore the local area a bit more....

Next: exploring rural villages in Northern Thailand
Previous: Last day in Chiang Mai

Diary Photos

Our bus to the far north, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Road from Chiang Mai to Thaton, Thailand

Road from Chiang Mai to Thaton, Thailand

Road from Chiang Mai to Thaton, Thailand

Road from Chiang Mai to Thaton, Thailand

Road from Chiang Mai to Thaton, Thailand

Road from Chiang Mai to Thaton, Thailand

Road from Chiang Mai to Thaton, Thailand

Chalet next to the Mae Kok River, Thaton, Thailand

Mae Kok River, Thaton, Thailand

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