One of the things we love about travelling is the people we meet along the way. When we arrived at the Mud House the other day we met a couple of fellow countrymen. Not just any old Aussies but a travel blogger and her photographer partner! We slipped into easy conversation with them and found that they too wanted to take a boat from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai. We hatched an elaborate plan to meet up on the same songtaew back to Tha Ton in two days time.
It was a plan that could have gone so wrong, but the travel gods smiled on us this time. It worked perfectly, we met up and got back to Tha Ton together! When we arrived at the public boat quay, we found we had a choice to make. We could either pay 400B each (AUS$16) or charter a boat for 2,2ooB (AUS $88). The beauty of a charter meant we could stop on the way to Chiang Rai, so we got out our wallets. Then along came a couple of Italian tourists wanting a boat ride. James sprung into sales mode and talked them into joining us. The poor devils didn’t stand a chance, and so we got our charter boat for 367B each (AUS $14.67)!
Now anyone who has ridden in a Thai long-tail boat will know they are long narrow boats, pretty uncomfortable and go fast. This is not a trip for the faint hearted. Our captain had to negotiate shallow sections of river, avoid floating logs and keep us upright on sections of white water. Oh, did I mention he only had one working eye? and the likelihood of getting wet was very high? And yes, you guessed it when it was our turn in the front seat I got drenched! But did we enjoy it, we loved every minute of it!
Tips for catching a long-tail boat from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai
The public boat leaves Tha Ton at 12.30pm so long as there are at least 4 passengers, otherwise it doesn’t run. This is the reason we ganged up in the first place! You can charter a long-tail boat from the same place. The maximum number you can have on a chartered boat is 6, as there are only three rows of seats. We had three stops along the way, a little village, the hot springs, and a stop for lunch and elephant riding. We had lunch but did not go near the elephant riding place for obvious reasons.
The boat stops just outside Chiang Rai and there was a Sangtaew waiting for us. Our Italian couple were charged 60B each (AUS $2.40) to go into the bus station in the centre of town. We were charged 100B each (AUS $4) to go to our hotel. I was surprised at this as I had expected the boat to go into Chiang Rai.
Our new friends Julie and Paul, are the real deal when it comes to adventure travel. They travel throughout Africa and Australia in 4WDs. They have cars and camping gear in both countries and travel between the two. I asked Paul how he got the feathers in his hat into Australia, knowing how strict our Customs are. Without missing a beat he told me he had a set of feathers in both countries! Julie is the writer, followdustytracks.com and Paul’s photography site is whitefellawalkabout.com