Published: May 8th 2011May 8th 2011
We made it to Chiang Mai with relative ease, although 3 hours lying across metal chairs in Bangkok airport wasn't particularly comfortable. Unfortunately our bags got soaked due to heavy rain on arrival. We checked in to a guesthouse Hevs had researched (first time for everything), which was cheap and cheerful with a friendly owner and a good location. We always knew we wanted to do lots of activities whilst in Chiang Mai so we set about seeing what was available. A guy at Halong Bay recommended a day zip-wiring in the jungle so we made sure to book that. I also booked a day mountain biking (on reflection I'm glad Heather didn't come, more later). We also really wanted to visit an elephant sanctuary and we booked a visit for Heather's birthday. Having booked all of that our guesthouse owner recommended the busy Sunday night market which turned out to be really good, after way too much food, we hit the sack.
The second day was zip-wiring and a 6.30am pick-up! The day was really good fun and Heather did pretty well considering her fear of heights?! It was basically a high-ropes assault course with bridges,
abseiling, zip-wiring etc. We then visited a waterfall and had a nice lunch. We got back to the guesthouse at around 2pm and decided to visit the local zoo. We immediately regretted not taking the zoo shuttle bus, the distances between enclosures was epic! There was also around 150 monks who we kept bumping into (not literally as it's considered a big faux pas)! It was interesting because it seems monks here in Thailand are just like you and I what with their cameras and all, they just wear bright orange robes instead.
Tuesday for me was mountain biking, which turned out to be pretty difficult (I fell off twice). It was a brilliant day though, I met lots of nice people and it was good to finally get some exercise! Hevs had a much more relaxing/girly day and got her nails done while mine were getting filthy! Some of the guys on the trip arranged a night out at a local reggae bar which turned out to be a good laugh (although the reggae kinda ended when they ran out of Bob Marley's greatest hits)!
After 2 busy days we used Wednesday as a chill-out, not much
Thursday was Heather's birthday and our much anticipated visit to Patara elephant farm just outside of Chiang Mai. Arriving at the park was amazing, 31 elephants roaming freely around the grounds. After getting kitted out in some dodgy looking local clothes, we were given our elephants. I had a large 15 year old male, Heather's was a smaller 6 year old male. We learnt to perform a daily health check which included checking the elephants shite (pleasant) amongst other things. We then washed them in the nearby stream which was great fun. Following that we rode our elephants on a long trek up to a waterfall (which was tiring because Patara doesn't use seats for visitors, I have now ridden an elephant bareback, it's fair to say it was sore, haha!). After a traditional lunch eaten off of banana plants, we swam with our elephants in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, a surreal experience. We then rode our elephants through the jungle back to camp where things took a turn for the worse. On arrival, my mahout signalled for the elephant to sit down. Unfortunately, the elephant decided to bow his head instead (which
I was sitting on). I couldn't help but fall to the ground, landing on both wrists, it bloody hurt! Initially I thought I was ok, but as the adrenaline wore off, it was clear that I needed a check over at the hospital. After an x-ray, I was very relieved to learn that my wrist wasn't broken, only a bad sprain. I was given a splint and told to rest up (Heather is writing the blog while I dictate). In the evening, undeterred and splinted up, we went to our first posh restaurant of the trip, which made a nice change. Some of the best cocktails we've ever had!
On Friday we flew to Koh Samui and after a long and sweaty search in the heat of the day, we have found a cool bar/restaurant/guesthouse to stay at on the large beach of Chaweng, which if I'm honest is a bit too touristy. We plan to stay here for a few days and then slowly make our way to Koh Tao where I am supposed to be doing my open-water diving course (wrist permitting, fingers on the good hand crossed).
Bye for now, catch up soon.
There are more photos below