Chiangrai - Chiang Saen: Departure formalities - Touring in Thailand, Cambodia and China - CycleBlaze

February 3, 2008

Chiangrai - Chiang Saen: Departure formalities

We wake up to a sunny and clear day. What a relief after all that rain. The first 30 kilometers are on Highway 1, lots of traffic and not very interesting. When we reach Mae Chan we can turn off onto a smaller, rural road and the ride is much more enjoyable with views of rice paddies and hills.

Leaving Chiangrai for Chiang Saen
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Florist on the road side
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It's early afternoon when we reach Chiang Saen. On the way into town we sail by many ruins of the ancient Chiang Saen. This isn't the time for sightseeing - we want to see if we can get our boat tickets to Jing Hong for Monday, that's tomorrow morning. If we postpone the trip until Wednesday we will arrive on the eve of Chinese New Year, the most frenetically celebrated holiday in China when everybody is traveling to spend the time with relatives in some other part of the country. As it turns out, the boat for Wednesday has been cancelled and as nice as Chiang Saen is, it doesn't have enough to offer to hold us until Friday when the next boat leaves.

At the Chiang Saen Guest House a sign says help is offered in getting boat tickets to Jinghong. The none-too-friendly woman running the guest house explains to us where the ticket office is. The rest we should do ourselves.

The sign for the ticket office isn't in your direct line of vision
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The ticket-office employee speaks no English and altogether makes the impression of being almost mute except for barking the word 'passports' at us. She manages to sell us the tickets by writing down the price on a piece of paper, nodding her head and pointing down the road. The pointing down the road is the hard part. We have little information on our planned boat trip but we do know that we have to have our passports stamped this evening since the boat will leave before the border control opens. We are sent with our passports to a passport control booth where we are told to sit and wait. Finally our ticket-office lady comes by, collects our passports, shows us where the port is and tells us to show up tomorrow at 5 a.m.

We are shown where we must appear tomorrow at 5 a.m. for the boat
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We have paid 80 Euros per person and 20 Euros per bike, have boat tickets but no receipt for the bikes and now no passports. We go back to our room hoping this is just the way things are done here and it will turn out alright.

We have one remaining hour of daylight in Chiang Saen and take a mini-tour on our bikes of some of the old ruins. We regret that we won't have a day for the town and its museum, but we feel fortunate that we will be on the boat for Jing Hong tomorrow.

Old walls of Chiang Saen
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Sweeping and burning leaves: The whole town is enveloped in a cloud of smoke
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