16.06.2009 - 30.06.2009
I think I left off in Koh Tao with my diving experience!
I left Koh Tao after spending far too many days doing nothing but drinking coconut shakes eating Pad Thai, lazing on the beach and then wondering why my clothes were all starting to feel a little tighter :-)
Time for action! I left Koh Tao with Rhian my Thailand travelling pal from Australia and we headed to Bangkok by catamaran and then coach. We arrived on the Kho San road at about 8.30pm and decided not to hang around in Bangkok but to head straight up to Chiang Mai that night. Gluttons for punishment when we arrived at the train station they only had seats left rather than sleeper beds so the next 15 hours were spent trying to sleep curled up in a ball accross a couple of seats and intermintantly playing games making up poems and drawings when we realised that our attempts to catch 40 winks were futile!
Chiang Mai...I loved it the last time I was there and I loved it all over again the second time around! is such a lovely place an old city that is easy to walk about in, lots of little coffee shops and books shops to mooch about in the day then a big night market, outside eating stalls and plenty of people to hang out with in the evening!
I decided not to trek from Chiang Mai as I had done the same last time and spent a few days wandering about the temples, meeting up for coffee with people we had met on the islands, and doing a lot of shopping at the night market! After 3 days we decided to get a bus to Pai which is a little town right in the north and heart of the mountains. The road was really windy and a bit treachorous but worth it to get to Pai which was a cute little traveller town with a hippy new age feel to it and loads of beautiful scenery surrounding.
We ambitiously hired mountain bikes on our first day for a three days and rode into the mountains to a waterfall that the map said was 7Km away! 4 hours later we arrived hot and sweaty having had to walk the most of the journey as the hills were too steep and the sterring, braking and gears on the bikes were not in the best condition! the waterfall was great, there were a bunch of Thai children all using the rocks as slides and having great fun and wanting millions of pictures taken of them!
Instead of going with a guided tour we decided to stop at two local tribe villages independentely to get a feel of what there day to day life was like when they didn't have zillions of minibuses arriving. The tribes were Lisu and Chinese ...much nicer to see them living day to days lives cooking and cleaning and working in the fields and selling there fruits and foods on the side of the road, however the biggest shock was to get flashed at by 3 young boys from the Lisu village though as we cycled past!
The bike ride home took us 20 mins...all down hill blissssssssssssss!
We decided to spend a day with the elephants and at the hot springs and arrived at a little elephant camp just outside Pai. I have been on elephants before but this time we got to ride on its bare back and I got to ride on its head which was pretty scary as our elephant Mai turned out to be the most wayward naughty elephant at the camp. The owner Noi came with us and even his shouting and clucking couldn't get Mai to go in the direction of the track we had to take so we did a bit of cross country with tree branches swinging at our heads left right and centre. As much as riding Mai was fun it was not the most comfortable journey and after an hour and a half I was glad to get off and go to the hot springs for some relaxing in the mid day sun in roasting water :-)
The day before we left Chiang Mai for Pai we had been for some dinner at a little cafe which was run by an old eccentric hippy Thai guy called Aun and his family and his crazy little dog. His cafe was really small but he grew all the ingredients for his food in his back garden and allowed you to cook yourself from his garden kitchen. He had never had anyone stay with him before but agreed that when we came back from Pai we could kip on the floor of his cafe on massage mats and use the garden and kitchen and chill out for a few days. Rhian left to go back to Bangkok and Aus so I decided to take up his offer and stayed in his cafe for 5 days. It was really nice...the massage matt turned out to be incredibly comfortable and whilst I was there his sister agreed to teach me Thai massage in a three day course. Thai massage is not like any other massage its actually quite painful... but in a good way and I really enjoyed learning how to do it although I had to use Aun to practice on and he insisted on burping as each part of his body was cracked into place!! Every day Aun liked to try to cook something different or add a new ingredient to a reciepe so I was used as the guinea pig for all his new cooking inventions which included spicy tomatos for breakfast and a scrummy yellow curry. I had such a nice chilled out time staying with him and could come back to the cafe whenever I wanted, although it opened at 7am every morning when Bob Marley or Jack Johnson was played at full blast and the crazy dog came to lick my face so long 'lie in's' weren't allowed!
I left Chiang Mai the day before my Thai visa ran out and made my way to Chiang Kong and the Laos border ready for the two day slow boat to Luang Prubang. I was in two minds whether just to cross the border and come back again with another 30 day visa as I really wanted to visit Chiang Rai and visit some tribes by the Burmese border but I met some fun people on my trip to Chiang Kong and decided the slow boat would be much more fun with them so continued into Laos.