After a couple more days in Nong Khiaw and Luang Nam Tha in Laos where I did some bike riding I proceeded back to Northern Thailand. The border crossing involved a boat, but was otherwise uneventful.
I stopped here for a couple of days. An unexciting place except for two artist built ‘temples”, the White Temple and the Black temple. Both temples are sort of Buddhist structures, but not official Wats. the White one is , well white , and a bit ice cream garish in appearance. It has some great murals inside but I found the architecture crass. The Black Temple on the other side of town was one of the most beautiful structures and grounds I found in Thailand (or anywhere) . Somber and dark, it has wood relief work and wooden furniture/sculpture all around.
Unfortunately my camera choose to break at this time so I have no photos.
I proceeded on to Chang Mai where I hoped to get my visa extended and do some painting. Chang Mai seemed a pleasant place, but it was to hot to paint and apparently I could only get my visa extended for 7 days. The problem is that when you cross by land into Thailand you only get a 15 day visa. Because they have problems with foreigners working under the table here they only allow a 7 day extension (for $60 ). So you end up having to do a land crossing every 15 days to another country….
Ranong and Chumpon
….Which I did by crossing into Myanmar/Burma. I went to the south of Thailand where I intended to visit my uncle and also go to Ko Pha Ngan island. From my uncle’s house in Chumpon I took a bus to Ranong and then a boat to Victoria Point, Myanmar. It was all quick and uneventful (lots of people do this), but you get glommed on by street-hustlers as soon as you leave the Myanmar passport control. Since I could not get rid of these guys I just went back by boat to Thailand right away.
Ko Pha Ngan
Visa in hand I proceeded to Ko Pha Ngan. A tourist island that many people I met had visited and really enjoyed. Here I have a beach front bungalow and beautiful ocean views. It is extremely hot and humid here so I lack enthusiasm to paint, but I will presently get to it. This is also a great place to do some snorkeling on the nice beaches and coral. On the 21st of this month I will have to leave to make a visa run, either to Malaysia or back to Myanmar.