Holiday in North Thailand
Last week I finished writing my latest book, ‘The Disallowed‘. I had originally planned to locate it in Laos, but a few Thai friends persuaded me to place it in north Thailand, so I made a compromise and put the family in the top eastern corner of north Thailand on the Laos border. I knew nothing about the place except what I could glean from the map and Wikipedia.
Then on Saturday, a friend invited us to go on a short holiday to north Thailand and it was to include exactly the same region I had chosen to put the family in. The book is about the Lee family, who are goatherds in the area north-east of Chiang Rai, in the mountains around Chiang Khong
We drove to Chiang Rai and looked around a beautiful all snow-white temple by the name of Wat Rong Khun. I had never seen anything like it. It is amazingly intricate and looks as if it was carved out of ice rather than built. From there we even further north to the ‘Golden Triangle’ where the confluence of the Mekong (Mae Naam Kong) and the Ruak rivers separates Burma (Myanmar), Laos and Thailand. China is less than a hundred miles north across Laos too.
From here, we journeyed west, staying close to the river to Mae Sai, where we spent the llnight. The next morning we looked around the huge market area in the city and then headed back west hugging the river until we got to exactly where the action of my book takes place. It was amazing for me to actually be where the characters in my novel live, in the east of the province of Chiang Rai in north Thailand somewhere before you get to Chiang Khong, where they have just built a new bridge over the Mekong into Laos.
The area is somewhere between hilly and mountainous and very sparcely populated. I saw several farms as we travelled through the mountains on narrow roads that could have been where the Lees had their farm and so the book came alive for me. I would like to have stayed there at least one night to feel the atmosphere, but my friends had to work, so we continued south to Phrae, which is still very much considered to be in north Thailand.
We stayed there a night too, and took our time driving back home the followeing day.
I thoroughly enjoyed our holiday break in north Thailand, but seeing the exact spot where the action of my book takes place really made it for me.