The small rural town of Phrao is about an hour literally down the road from us. We come out of the Moo Baan onto the 1001, turn left and that’s where we end up.

I have a friend who has explored this route a couple of times and recommended it as an interesting and scenic drive so with an afternoon to spare, as most of them are, we set out for an explore.

The first few kilometres are dual carriageway and take us pass Mae Jo university, now closed as a result of the coup, and out into the countryside where after about ten minutes the road narrows to a single lane.

A "normal" Thai rural type road.

A “typical” Thai rural road. Could be Australia.

The view as we drive out of Chiang Mai.

The view from the car as we drive out of Chiang Mai heading North.

Once outside major centres roads seem to be pretty quiet in Thailand.

Once outside major centres roads seem to be pretty quiet in Thailand.

Even on these minor road you can see that space has been made on the left for motorcycles, which form such a integral part of the transport system here.

Shortly outside the developed area of Chiang Mai, which ends quite abruptly, the rural aspect takes over. We stopped for this view as Gaun wanted to show her sister back on the farm in Isaan what they were growing locally here.

Local crops.

Local crops. Gaun tells me this is cauliflower being grown.

Shortly after the photo above and about 30 minutes into the trip we saw a large white Wat in the hills on the right hand side. Because it was high up I thought it would have good views over the plain we were on so we turned off to have a look. The small road twisted through the countryside and for once the Wat was clearly signposted.

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Wat Phrathat Chomkitti or Chom Kitti.

The final turn into the hills was a bridge across this canal where locals were net fishing without success we were told.

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Three fishermen in all with nets hoping to provide for dinner maybe.

Gaun spoke to this guy and he told her that they had no success so far.

Gaun spoke to this guy and he told her that they had no success so far.

More beautiful tree colours at the back of the canal.

More beautiful tree colours at the back of the canal.

Tropical colours.

Tropical colours.

The road up to the Wat.

The road up to the Wat.

Driving into through the “bush” we came round a corner and were surprised to see this on the left. It was actually a gateway to some toilets set further back. There was nothing else around so what it was all about is still a mystery, as is so much in Thailand.

Shock and awe.

Shock and awe. You can just see a glimpse of the white toilet buildings in the far distance.

Completely in keeping with the surroundings.

Completely in keeping with the surroundings.

A few minutes further on and we arrived at the Wat set in the trees with sweeping views over the countryside.

Bang three times for luck.

Bang three times for luck.

The gold Chedi, which dominates the Wat.

The gold Chedi, which dominates the Wat.

A reclining Buddha image  gazes at the Chedi.

A reclining Buddha image gazes at the Chedi.

We realised that the afternoon was building to a thunderstorm and this photo confirmed it.

Wonderful views and the clouds building.

Wonderful views of the thunderstorm that chased us into the hills later.

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Looking back towards Chiang Mai.

Looking back towards Chiang Mai.

The stairway from the Chedi area to the rest of the temple site was decorated in a fashion that I have become used to here. Nothing that seems to relate to one’s idea of Buddhism but maybe reflecting far more the playful nature of Thais.

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The stairway and Gaun resting from the heat.

The stairway and Gaun resting from the heat.

A huge white Buddha was one of the things we had seen from the road. Here it is up close.

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A copy of the style of building from the White Temple in Chiang Rai.

A copy of the style of building from the White Temple in Chiang Rai.

I didn't have sunglasses and this was VERY striking.

I didn’t have sunglasses and this was VERY striking.

Those thunder clouds in the distance.

Those thunder clouds in the distance.

If you haven’t read my post on the Chiang Rai White temple you can find it is HERE.

More examples of the garden ornaments.

More examples of the garden ornaments.

Back on the road with the storm chasing us we headed out of the plain and into a hilly area, which provided a nice contrast to what we had seen so far on the trip.

The road heading into the hills.

The road heading into the hills.

The driver.

The driver.

A local market where we bought lychees, which are in season here.

A local market where we bought lychees, which are in season here.

Views to more hills in the distance.

Views over rice paddies to more hills in the distance.

Burning - the reason for our air quality in the North.

Burning – the reason for our air quality in the North.

Rain on its way.

Rain on its way.

We stopped for the photo but didn't do the walk!

We stopped for the photo but didn’t do the walk!

Our hard working transport. Another trip to Isaan coming up in June.

Our hard working transport. Another trip to Isaan coming up in June.

The plain on the other side of the hills heading into Phrao itself.

The plain on the other side of the hills heading into Phrao itself.

Driver and photographer!

Driver and photographer!

With the rain I wasn’t able to capture as much of the scenery as I would have liked. Phrao is a typical small Thai town and we only stopped long enough to buy some street food, which was excellent, and turn around for the drive home.

I am taking my Australian visitors on the trip this week but extending it to do a loop that brings us onto the 118, the road to Chiang Rai – my post HERE. Hopefully the weather will be kinder to us and I will update the post with some more photos.

I always enjoy heading into Thai countryside and out of the developed areas. It all seems more “real” and unaffected by the tourist traffic, which has its place but in limited doses.

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Thanks for dropping by.