Goodbyes are a fairly common part of travel. I often find myself saying goodbye to any number of people, places and even on occasion things, and I’ve only been traveling for a little under 2 months now. If I’m being completely honest I can tell you that I’ve grown accustomed to saying goodbye, but on occasion there’s a goodbye that makes me a little sad. For me leaving Thailand falls under the very sad end of the goodbye spectrum. I have had such a wonderful time traveling, learning, and experiencing new things while meeting some incredible people along the way. In short: Thailand has been good to me, and like most good things, it’s a little hard to say goodbye.
I woke up after my very last night at the Chiangmai Backpack House to the empty dorm room I fell asleep in and a twinge of sadness hit me. As I lugged my pack downstairs and ordered my last meal, I felt a little tired after having not lifted my pack in 2 weeks, and a little sad that my time here had come to an end. When my minivan arrived to take me to Chiang Rai an hour or so later, I got in as quickly as possible and tried not to look back. That hostel had become a sort of home away from home for me, so it was hard to have to say goodbye to such a wonderful place, but I knew I couldn’t stay much longer, and there was more of Thailand I wanted to see before heading into Laos.
The plan was to spend a night in Chiang Rai before moving on to Chiang Khong after spending the day exploring the town and visiting the White Temple. When the White Temple ended up being included in the ticket I purchased, I found myself at the Chiang Rai bus station with a decision to make.
Do I stay and see what else there is, or do I catch the next bus and head straight to Chiang Khong? After a little hemming and hawing, I chose to catch the next bus, so after a bite to eat that’s exactly what I did.
Now, I’m not advocating that you spend all your time riding in non-aircon buses on a trip to Thailand, if you ever decide to go, but this public bus was far more comfortable and less scary than the minivan I had just gotten out of. The driver took his time getting to Chiang Khong, mostly due to all the stops we made along the way, but despite that, not once did I have to brace myself on a seat or feel like vomiting, and at the end of our journey I didn’t thank God or Buddha for allowing me to arrive in one piece. To make the trip even better, we were driving through some of the most beautiful rice fields I had seen yet. There were mountains in the background and an ever setting sun to complete one of the most beautiful scenes Thailand had offered me yet. All of this wasn’t making leaving the country any easier, so when I arrived in Chiang Khong I was almost asking for something bad to happen.
Instead I was approached by a beautiful Thai lady telling me about her guesthouse a few hundred meters away. Since I hadn’t booked anything in the hour I gave myself to decide, I hopped into the back of her truck, thinking like I have on many occasions how this is exactly the sort of behavior I was told to avoid my entire life, and was taken to the most darling riverfront guesthouse I could imagine. Score another one for Thailand. Once I had settled in, I joined the many other guests for a night of laughter and drinks, and went to bed happy about my decision to come to Chiang Khong early.
I spent the day doing absolutely nothing. It was perfection.
I had planned on leaving, but that never happened, so I did a little wandering around before spending the afternoon doing nothing. It was becoming my specialty in Chiang Khong.
Eventually I will leave Thailand, but one more day in a quaint guesthouse by the Mekong won’t hurt. If you haven’t figured out what I did with my day by this point, then you may need to reread April 21 and April 22 above.
I actually woke up early enough to catch the free ride my guesthouse offered to the border. After getting stamped out of Thailand I boarded a small boat and made the 2 minute journey to Laos. I was definitely sad about leaving Thailand, and as I’m sure you noticed, I did my best to procrastinate until there was no more time left on my visa.
Sometimes the scariest thing about traveling is not knowing what awaits you in a new place, so leaving somewhere familiar becomes that much more difficult. This was one of those times for me. I found myself feeling afraid that Laos would be a huge disappointment after all the great things I had experienced. Thailand had offered up a hefty dose of culture, temples, great people, and interesting experiences to last me for the entirety of my trip, but all good things must come to an end sooner or later, and in the back of my mind I knew it was time to leave. I had postponed my exit as long as I could, and although it was a little sad staring at the shore of Thailand from across the Mekong, I knew that more great experiences were ahead of me in Laos.
April 20 Total: 612 Baht or $20.90 for my minivan ride, bus, food, drinks, and accommodation
April 21 Total: 380 Baht or $13 for food, drinks, and accommodation
April 22 Total: 770 Baht or $26.30 for food, drinks, and accommodation
April 23 Total: 430 Baht or $14.68 for food, drinks and accommodation