Lampang

Travel in Asia is an art form. From the language barrier, to 5 hour delayed trains, to wondering if ‘bungee cord’ counts as a ‘locked compartment on a bus or coach’ as written in your travel insurance, to a bus hammering along a road dodging mopeds and trucks while the driver talks on his mobile.

What makes it harder is when the address your AirBnb host puts as their address is a Gundam Shop (little toy robots from a Japanese Anime for those not cool enough to know – what were you doing in your childhoods? Making friends and socializing or something?) in the middle of a street which is very local.

Notice there are no pictures until we got to our guest house. Jo was not a happy puppy at this point.

Finally our host was an absolute star and, after many phone calls trying to figure out where we were, where she was and where we could meet, she came to meet us in her car, which brightened Jo up plenty as she brought her young child with her.

Anyway, on to Lampang, because we love Lampang.

Our guesthouse is lovely, it’s someone’s home and it’s the first place we’ve been for a while that has a really homely feel to it. Their English isn’t great though, so when they need a translator they illicit the help of a monk from the temple next door. Everyone is really friendly and on our last night in Lampang Jo sits up talking to him long into the night – I was writing a blog post for you lovely people, so…you’re welcome (also I was tired and feeling introverted.)

Another city, another market of course, Jo fuels up her coconut addiction and we go out into Lampang to get some dinner. The market is another good one, a long (long) street with colorful stalls running down either side and shops sitting behind them, the food is fresh and tasty and we finally find one of the two fruits we had been given in Khao Yai National Park – Jo’s favorite the Longun fruit.

We walk for a while and find an absolute gem, an art gallery which supported artists – unfortunately we had to refrain from buying a tonne of souvenirs as our backpacks are pretty damn full already. Sorry peeps. We sat for a while and listened to a local band play outside and had a wander around the rooms looking at paintings before heading off to see market, lots and lots of market. So much market, awesome but Jesus is it a lot of market – all on one long street.

Horse Trip

Lampang’s ‘thing’ is a horse and carriage tour. I don’t know why it’s Lampang’s thing, but it is. The horses are cute, the carriages are pretty, it’s all romantic and such.

So here’s the thing.  Asian horses are much, MUCH smaller than ours. Built for small Asian people, which Jo and I are not. That poor bloody horse. It was a trooper though, and although we did feel a bit bad it lugged our gigantic western asses all over town. If I had a carrot, I would have given it to him.

We toured around the famous temples in the area, seeing a big golden reclining Buddha and one temple which had a back entrance that opened out onto a beautiful lake with a large dragon staircase leading down to a bridge. There was an old traditional house with an art installation inside, and an amazing pagoda made out of wood.

It was a good half a day tour and we had a great time. But seriously, that poor bloody horse.

Jan’s Coffee

Once the horse trip was complete, we decided to go and see the biggest wooden temple in Thailand. That involved a local bus – a local bus we spent half an hour failing to find.

Eventually we ended up in a coffee shop, Jan’s Coffee Shop, trying to get some help to find a bus. He came out with us to the bus to find the driver ‘couldn’t be bothered to go that far’ and thus we were stuck. So Jan goes off to tell his wife to look after the coffee shop for us and (after making me drink one of his espressos so I could tell all of you wonderful readers to go and try his coffee because, you know what, it was really, really good) he bundles us into his car and takes us himself.

It’s a long trip and we chat to Jan, we find out about his life and his coffee shop and we chat about life in England. The Wooden Temple (Wat Phra That Lampang Luang) is worth the visit and we admire the beautiful carvings and golden Buddhas.

At this point in our trip Jo’s getting worried I’m going to convert to Buddhism because I sit and meditate every time we come across a temple, but shh, don’t tell her it’s because I’m avoiding walking around with her as she takes a million photos. We find a little hut which confirms I’m not the only ‘Buddhist’ who had this idea, as women are not allowed in.

Ok, Ladies, I’m sorry to have to do this, it’s a whole thing. You have to skip over the next line. You can’t read it – I’m about to tell the men what was in the room where ladies are not allowed, so you cant read it. Ready? Close your eyes and scroll down a bit…….now.

Nothing. Just some cushions and a projector screen with no projector. I think it’s where they watch football. It was kind of disappointing.

Ok, ladies, you can start reading again now.

Jo then asks Jan to take us to another temple, across the other side of the city, he happily agrees and we hop back in the car. This one is smaller, but on top of a rather big hill. As we wind our way up in the car we pass dogs – a lot of dogs. It’s the stuff of nightmares for Jo and it’s the stuff of FLUFFY PUPPY CUDDLES for me. Unfortunately, Jan tell us, this is where Thai people come to drop off dogs they no longer want, they just leave them in the woodland to join the pack. They chase us for a while, they chase some cyclists for a while – I’m glad we’re in a car.

The temple is pretty cool with nice views over the woodland, we’re a bit worries about Jan as we have to climb a few hundred steps to get up there, but he puts us to shame and we have to keep stopping him to make sure he gets a bit of rest on the way up. That’s our excuse anyway.

We sit together on the hill to watch the sunrise then weave our way back down the hill back to the coffee shop for some dinner.

It’s so lovely in Lampang we’re sad to leave, especially to the backpacker community of Chiang Mai, but next morning we roll into a Tuk Tuk and head for the bus station.

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