No issue to leave your backpack unattended
The tuk-tuk driver from the guesthouse brings me to the Arcade bus station. As I still have to buy a ticket inside, my bag remains unattended in the meantime. No problem according to the driver, so I take the risk. Apparently, this is entirely possible in Thailand. His wife works at the cash counter, so I quickly meet her while obtaining my bus ticket to rural Lampang. When the bus attendant loads my backpack into the boot, I take my seat on the other side of the bus. The cargo area remains open until departure. For the second time in a couple of minutes, I risk losing my luggage.
The actual reason for visiting Lampang
The bus ride to Lampang goes smoothly. Underway we pass the Elephant Training and Conservation Center, my goal for tomorrow, and the real reason for my stop in rural Lampang. We drive through a beautiful, abundant green environment. An hour and a half later I arrive at my destination.
Finding a place to stay in rural Lampang
No troop of touts this time trying to lure newly arrived tourists to their guesthouse, so I have to figure things out on my own. A man points me to a songthaew that drives to the city center. My backpack lies on the roof. Without a clear map of the city, I cannot orientate myself clearly. But after a while, the driver tells us that we have arrived in town. With my big backpack on the back and a small one on the front, I try to find a guesthouse near the Wang River. After 20 minutes, soaking from sweat, I end up at a hostel made entirely of teak wood. The rooms are small but in order, with a bathroom.
The temple on my wishlist is closed
There is one temple in Lampang that I wish to visit, Wat Phra Kaeo Don Tao, in the north of the city. To get a good impression of this city, I go there on foot. Lampang is much more rural than Chiang Mai, hardly touristy, with typical wooden houses, such as the guesthouse where I am staying. Once in the northern part, I pass three temples. All three appear to be closed, and one of them is the one I wanted to see here. I don’t bother too much and start to walk back.
Ceremony with men running over hot coals
Because I am getting exhausted I head to my guesthouse again. Close by I hear kettle sounds coming from a nearby temple and go take a look. Some ritual ceremony is going on. Several men are beating small gongs or cymbals. A short time later, smoldering coals are scattered on the courtyard in front of the temple. After a blessing ceremony, some men run over the hot coals towards the temple, a rather spectacular sight. It is no problem at all to take pictures of the happening.
Plenty of mosquitoes near the river
Back in the guesthouse, I take a shower, for the first time this trip with hot water. I try to relax a bit on the bed. Immediately I start to feel itchy at the feet. The guesthouse is located on the river, in other words, there are plenty of mosquitoes. Or are they lice, bugs, fleas, or other vermin? Though I apply some mosquito repellent, the insects still bite me a couple of times. Quite regrettable because at this resting point in my trip here in rural Lampang I would have liked to read a book outside. Also in the room that is not a success, even though there is mosquito netting everywhere at the door and the windows.
Enjoying a local northern Thai dish for dinner
In the evening I have dinner at the restaurant of the guesthouse, which is located 200 meters further around the corner. I order local northern Thai food; steamed chicken with lime and separately, rice. As I can not eat too spicy, I ask the Thai maid to instruct the cook on this. Every evening a live music band performs in this restaurant; again – as in many places in Thailand – Asians playing covers of western songs. The quality of their performance is pretty good this time. My meal itself is only slightly spicy, so I can easily enjoy eating this local dish. But the chicken has been prepared the Asian way again; that means with bones and all, and then just cut into pieces. So I start to bite against my will. The food is delicious though.
Doubt about moving to Lampang
After dinner, I hang out for a while and drink two Singha beers. Meanwhile, I can`t stop thinking; should I have stayed a bit longer in Chiang Mai instead of moving to rural Lampang? I try to pep up myself with a life spell that I heard this morning; things that have been done, can not be undone.