Chiang Khong is primarily known for being a stop-off en route to Laos. Some people might argue that it is more than just a service station for backpackers, that it is in fact a destination in its own right. Those people would be wrong.
We arrived in Chiang Khong after a long, hot bus journey from Chiang Mai. We got dropped off on the main road and were immediately swamped by tuk-tuk drivers offering their services. Elisa must have been feeling particularly sporty and/or sadistic, because she suggested we walk to the guesthouse rather than get a lift.
I popped into a 7-Eleven to ask for directions, whilst Elisa waited outside with our impossibly heavy rucksacks. I showed my map to the girl inside, and tried to ask whereabouts we were. Due to a communication breakdown, the most we could establish was which road we were on, not where we were on it. Seeing as we already knew which road we were on, this wasn’t particularly helpful. Nevertheless, I bought some seaweed flavoured crisps to show my appreciation.
Eventually, we worked out where we were going, and set off in the direction of our guesthouse, the Baanrimtaling. We arrived after about ten minutes, and were pleased to see that the place looked a lot better than the places we had passed on our journey. We had booked a bungalow in advance, but were shown to a twin room with no bathroom and lots of pet insects. I casually mentioned that we would probably prefer the room we’d booked, so we were shown to a bungalow overlooking the river. Laos was in our sights.
The room was decent enough, although there was no glass or insect screen in the bathroom window, which was a shame. We guessed it was as comfortable as we would find in Chiang Khong. It was closer to a backpacker style room than Chiang Rai’s Orchids guesthouse or Chiang Mai’s hotel-standard Green Tulip. Elisa said I should stop being such a nancy boy and get on with it, so that’s what I did.
By this point, it was dark, and we went out looking for a place to grab some dinner. We passed a small market selling food, but sadly neither of us were in the mood for battered chicken feet. After walking almost out of the town, we decided to head back and eat at the Baanrimtaling. The restaurant area overlooks the river and there’s a good selection of Western and Thai dishes. I had chicken Tom Yum, which was excellent.
When we got back to the room, there was some kind of dragon sitting on the wall. It was bigger than my foot, and that’s coming from someone who has to buy shoes from specialist websites because their feet are so large. Neither myself or the lizard knew what to do, and there was a sort of embarrassed silence before it
Banana for scale
It was pancakes for breakfast, before jogging off in search of a tuk-tuk to take us to the Thai/Laos border. On the way, we spotted a small, black van decorated with a number of swastikas and the word ‘Naze’. I tried to take a photo, but Elisa made us walk on, worried that we’d get beaten up by a bunch of dyslexic anti-semites.
Baanrimtaling Home Stay: 6.5/10
Chiang Khong: 5/10