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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Sophaphan Lodge
Chiang Khong, Thailand

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli


One of our favorite places to visit in Thailand is Chiang Khong. Nestled alongside the Mekong River on the border of Laos, this sleepy town is a refreshing change of pace from bustling Chiang Mai. Chiang Khong is a small quiet border town in the Chiang Rai province of Northern Thailand with its own immigration office and busy port.

We choose to stay in the Ruanthai Sophaphan Lodge which gives us the sense of a traditional Thai teak home. Rooms are 600 baht (currently $18.50 USD) for a double, with ensuite bath. If you are looking to stay here, simply arrive in Chiang Khong and ask for  'so-POP-ahn'  Lodge. Everyone knows it!

 

Sophaphan, the owner, built this home 4 decades ago. Each plank of teak wood was collected piece by piece from the elders in the village. This hardwood is known for its beauty and longevity and some of the wood used in the Lodge is 100 years old or more. Quite difficult to cut, Sophaphan hired laborers to saw the wood at 60 baht a day (about $2 USD), the going wage at that time.

 

Since each piece of wood has been recycled from other homes and locations, they were all different sizes. This caused this 4th floor to be wider than the 3rd floor.

The ceiling carries a legend with it as well. When Sophaphan was young, she was quite poor. Having no money for a home, she utilized bamboo mats to create a small room for herself. When she built this Lodge, she purposefully chose to use a woven bamboo ceiling to remind her of her past life as a young girl.

 

When the morning sunlight comes streaming in, the color of the teak wood is stunning. The windows all open up for a view of the Mekong River which has been flowing past for centuries. Originating in the frigid Jifu Mountains in Tibet, the Mekong River eventually flows into the Mekong Delta, which empties into the South China Sea at Vietnam.

 

Photographs depicting Sophaphan's life are seen throughout. Thai silk pillows make it tempting to sit and enjoy the many views this rambling home offers. Lovingly decorated over many years by Madame Sophaphan there are traditional artifacts, hill tribe crafts, family memorabilia, and objects of historical and social interest. As is true with most guest houses this is the owner's home as well.

 

The dining area is a pleasant place to hang out while drinking a smoothie and catching up on correspondence.

The local roads are rated as some of the best motorcycle routes in the world. Every time we have come to visit we meet serious motorcycle riders who are going around the world on their road bikes. These international bike riders make for interesting chats at happy hour!

On this trip we met a group of bicyclists touring Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. What a great way to see the local countryside. Their tour group filled this whole place!

 

The kitchen is fully supplied. If you notify them, the staff will prepare a fixed price menu for your dinner. Scrumptuous!

 

From these dining tables, clearly visible 300 meters across the river is the township of Huay Xai which is a legal point of entry for Laos. Anyone with a valid visa for Laos may cross by ferry. Chiang Khong is an important market town for local hill tribes and for trade with northern Laos. Nearby are several villages inhabited by Mien and White Hmong.

One can rest here at these tables to read a book, do some computer work, or enjoy chatting with other travelers. Meanwhile the Mekong slowly drifts by.

 

This home stay accommodation is quite large and offers 25 budget fan-cooled rooms and includes a simple breakfast. It has a very distinctive and unique Lanna style with many vantage points around the building for photo opportunities.

Down on the first floor a yoga instruction room is currently being built. Why not plan a yoga retreat here?

 

Rooms are simple, rustic and include an ensuite western bathroom.

 

Every floor has views from which to see the Mekong River. Large, spacious, quiet, comfortable. No city noise here! No beeping, buzzing or banging. No TV or radio, only the wind in the trees, and the sounds of birds outside. True audio luxury.

You can retire and travel the world - You do have options - Let us show you how!

Trade between Thailand and China via Chiang Khong is steady. Thai goods going north include dried and processed food and beverages, cosmetics, machinery, spare parts and agro industrial supplies
 

If reading a captivating novel and watching the Mekong River float by becomes too stressful, then why not book a Thai massage? Across the road, on the same street as the Lodge is a Thai massage hut offering the best price in town! (100 baht per hour, about $3USD) Be sure to make a stop there to therapeutically relieve stressed muscles. It's a great way to break up your busy day.

 

Sophaphan's son, Pop, speaks excellent English. He can help you with your travel needs if you would like to go on to Laos from the Lodge or take a bus to the next town.

 

The dazzling Madame Sophaphan herself! Business savvy, a remarkable cook, and well connected in town. She is a real delight.

 

Morning on the Mekong offers timeless charm.

You might be interested to know that the Mekong River stretch passing through Chiang Khong is an important fishing ground for the Plaa Beuk or giant Mekong catfish, probably the largest fresh water fish in the world. It takes at least 6 and possibly 12 years (no one really knows for sure) to reach full size 2-3 meters in length and weighing up to 300 kg. Locals say these fish swim all the way from where the Mekong originates in northern China but that is unlikely. In Thailand and Laos its meaty but mild tasting flesh is revered as a delicacy.

At the moment the greatest threat to the catfish’s survival is the blasting of Mekong River rapids in China, which is robbing the fish of important breeding grounds.

 

Newly purchased and renovated by Sophaphan, the solid teak Ruan Thai Old Fashioned House is situated on the main street.  It is one of the most stylish and photographed buildings in Chiang Khong. One does not get the river views from here, and the rooms are a little less expensive, about 300-400 baht a night (about $9 - $12 USD).

If you are looking for a respite from your noisy, jammed-packed life, taking a break here at the Lodge in Chiang Khong is certainly recommended!

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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