Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chiang Mai

We caught the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, 12hr trip. We decided to have a sleeping tablet each to try and hurry the journey along. We slept off and on and we didn't prepare clothing wise as we were freezing cold from the aircon and didn't really sleep at all just really tired. Got to Chiang Mai at 6:30am very tired and got a taxi to our accommodation. We arrived way before check in time but they were very kind and gave us a room to stay in and sleep until our room was ready. We got up bout lunchtime and decided to go exploring. We had some lunch then wandered around, we came across the night bazaar, there was so many talented artists doing very realistic sketches and paintings of people, their artwork was crazy good.

We called it a night and decided that we would hire some motorbikes the next day and head up into the mountains to visit a the oldest temple in Thailand, Doi Suthep.
We woke early and got on our bikes and headed up the mountain. The scenery along the was was amazing and we did a few stops along the way, one was at a swimming hole with lots of local and foreign guys jumping off high trees into a small but deep rock pool there was also a food stall selling all sorts of fired bugs to eat with a sign saying "Try if you Dare" (Hell no!). We thought they must have been crazy. When we arrived at the temple we were taken back by the beauty of it. Took loads of photo's and just people watched the locals really to see what this was all about. On our way back to our bikes we saw the cutest young girl, probably about 4yrs old. She was all dressed up in traditional hill tribe costume and was singing a little song to herself. We thought she was adorable and went to take a picture of her, as soon as the button clicked on the camera she was up demanding money, so we gave her all the spare change we had, not much. They train the children very young we are discovering.

After we got on our bikes we raced back down to the mountain as we had booked a Thai vegetarian cooking class the previous night. We arrived with not a minute to spare.The course went for 5 hrs and Luke and I came up with the menu of 9 courses. We did the course with 3 guys from Israel, very nice and got along very well with them all. The feast we cooked up was amazing and we are really looking forward to having a Thai cooking night with everyone when we arrive back home.
The next day we did a day trip out to the Elephant Nature Park, about an hour out of town. It is a place for rescued and abused elephants. We got to feed them, bath them learn about them and their past and also watched a very disturbing but interesting documentary on how they break the elephant's spirit so people are able to ride them. Was a horrible thing to watch and we strongly recommend that you don't encourage this tourism practice. If you were to watch this video you would never ride an elephant again.
Was a highlight of our trip and was an emotional day full of amazing highs and some sad lows but a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
When we got back to town that night it was about 6:00pm and we were told that it was Sunday night markets on Walking street. They close off the whole street and have the most amazing stalls of crafts and food and local traditional music playing all around you and the atmosphere is fantastic! We stumbled onto a 4 pieces band all of which were blind, they're music sounded amazing and we were in awe of their talent.

Our next stop was Luang Prabang, we asked around to see how long it would take overland and we found out i was a day but bus and two days by boat. We really didn't have the time to waste on 3 days travelling so we decided to fly. Was expensive but suited our situation at the time.

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