Oct 10 - Chiang Rai
We decided to take the public boat from Thaton to Chiang Mai. Although the boat is packed during high season, we were the only two passengers aboard today. Departure is once daily and cost is 350 baht. It travels down the swift flowing Mae Kok river, and what a trip it is. The first two thirds of the trip were thru the mountains and the scenery was spectacular. Much of the area is agriculture, with crops planted up steep hills and down to the river. We passed several small villages and towns and everyone waved. The water buffalo were cooling off in the river; at times only their heads and shoulders were visible. Along many areas of the river the depth was so shallow that rapids and over runs were common, but the flat bottomed longtail took them in stride. It was surprisingly quiet too; we could hold a conversation the entire trip. Although we thought it would take 3.5 hours, we arrived at the dock in Chiang Rai in 2.5 hours. The last little bit was thru much flatter areas, with some of the houses on the river looking pretty grand. The best comparison we could make was that today was like being on a 2.5 hour Disney boat ride! This is something we are so happy to have experienced, and recommend you take the ride if you're in these parts.