After a short stopover at Sukhimvit on the Nut in Bangkok, we left the following day for a flight to Chiang Mai. Every time I mentioned Chiang Mai as a destination, I was told how wonderful it was. However, I was really excited about a hut I had booked in Chiang Dao, which was about a 1½ hour bus ride from Chiang Mai. We took a taxi to the bus station in Chiang Mai. Our taxi driver asked why we were taking the bus to Chiang Dao when we could take his taxi for only 1600 baht. I told him we would take the bus.
He mentioned one more time before we boarded the bus, a cost of only 40 baht each, that the buses were not air-conditioned. As if it mattered; we were still frozen from the Air Asia flight and the fans on the bus circulated the cool mountain air along the road to Chiang Dao.
It was a brilliant decision to make the trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao. It felt quite like the beginning scenes of Jurassic Park when we passed a field of huge elephants. Chiang Dao is a very small town and we
had no problem getting a tuk tuk taxi to our Chiang Dao Nest hut located at the valley of one of the tallest mountains in Thailand. Our hut is gorgeous and Chiang Dao nest gives the magical feeling you want of Thailand.
While we chatted with other travelers during dinner, there became a rising concern over the hideousness of Bekah’s feet. Her skin had reacted to Phuket’s sun by swelling and emerging with large bubbled blisters. A fellow in long turbans and elaborate necklaces suggested a magical plant called Aloe Vera, which was immediately brought to us directly from the forest. Then a lady sliced up the Aloe with a knife while her friend, a healer, bandaged Bekah’s feet with the plant. Suggesting she stay off her feet, grab a book and find a hammock for the next day or so, I cancelled our adventure tour with the elephants, rafting, and the hiking.
I woke up at 8:00 in the morning and woke Bekah up to see if she wanted breakfast. She was more tired than hungry so I grabbed a bite while she slept. I went back to the hut and she was still sleeping so I put
on my tennis shoes and went for a hike. I found a great nature trail that led up the mountain, but the mosquitos were so bad that I thought I should get some spray because I didn’t want bites on top of a sunburn. I was taking my time walking along the road when Air picked me up and we rode with the wind back to our Nest on her motorbike. (Air, pronounced Iye-ah-ar really fast, is the Chiang Dao Nest manager.) Bekah was up. We called a taxi to take us into town so we could get bug spray and have a doctor look at Bekah’s feet.
We told one of the doctors that her injury was from the sun in Phuket. She asked if we were traveling by ourselves.
“Just the two of you?” She asked, wide-eyed. “No men?”
“How do you manage?”
I held Bekah’s hand while the doctor cut the sun blisters from her feet and laughed as she grimaced in pain. I’m just glad it wasn’t me.
We took a motorbike back to the hut and Bekah slept more. I decided to try the hike again but instead ended up at
a monastery. It looked to be closed up for the day because all the booths were shut up and the sound of monk’s chanting had ceased, leaving an odd silence. I climbed the 500 steps to the top and could hear someone cleaning. Wanting to remain invisible, I snuck around the empty sleeping quarters of the monks and then went back down the steps. At the very bottom of the steps I saw a pair of flip-flops. They were a gold Buddhist color and had Thai writing all over them. I’m sure a monk took them off to make the climb to the monastery holy.
So that’s all. An uneventful day really, not many stories to tell there…..except for the amazing Thai food we had that night. The guy in robes and a split open shirt with necklaces (that had suggested the Aloe plant the first night we were there, and whom that night Bekah and I decided was a cult leader) came up to our little bungalow dining area to talk to us. Turns out, he may or may not be a cult leader, but he is staying within a spiritual community. He asked us about our travels and
shared his spiritual and non-spiritual journey with us. About this time, a few minutes after the sunset, we begin to hear a loud croaking noise joining along with the sound the crickets.
The spiritual leader hushed us with a finger to his lips. “Listen…do you hear that? Do you know what that sound is?”
He smiled out of the corner of his mouth. “It is a gecko. The first night I was here I heard it outside my window and thought it was an evil spirit.” He laughs. “Later I found out it was a gecko.”
Our hotel had the tour package I wanted: for over 2600 baht. Playing the poor student deal, and by cutting out 5 tribes, I got the price down to 1200 baht. We were taken to an elephant farm and rode an elephant for an hour, which ended at a hilltribe selling things. Then we went rafting with a boy that had a mean face. I helped him row, but only got him to smile twice. We ate lunch by the river and then headed towards one of my highlights of the trip: the Karen long-neck tribe village. Seeing all the pictures, and then
seeing them in real-life was unreal. But also dissappointing. It really was just a showcase, each showcase selling us something. Only women and children with long necks. They don't think any tourist would be interested in what the Karen men do I guess.
Bekah and I left for Bangkok and found a cheap place off Khao San Road that was right across from a restaurant/cooking school that the spiritual leader had raaaaaaved about. I inquired about lessons and we were booked to learn 10 Thai dishes the next day. We were taken to the market and quickly shown some ingredients. We met in the branch restaurant and learned over 10 dishes, right after the other, and were done by 2:30 pm, stuffed. I can cook delicious Thai food now. My menu:
Tom Yam Soup
Fried vegetables with either ginger or cashew nuts
Massaman or Penang Curry
Green Thai Curry
Green Papaya Salad
Mango Sticky Rice Dessert
It was a vegetarian school, but our teacher was not a vegetarian, and neither are Bekah and I. So she told us how, when, and what kind of meat to add to a
We left Khao San Road and took our stuff to Sukhimvit on the Nut again, near the airport. From there we could easily hop onto the Skytrain and see the Siam district. We went to the biggest market I've ever been in in my life: and that is saying something for Asia. If I ever buy my ancient, historic house or apartment with big windows, I want to fill it with things from the Bangkok market. 😊
So the trip back was not the easiest. The trouble began at the Guangzhou airport at midnight and our next flight was supposed to leave at 9:00 am the next morning. We were told that the flight would provide us a hotel. I wasn't sure how that was supposed to work. But we were directed and taken by a bus to a hotel. Then the hotel gave us a charge of 500 yuan. I told them it shouldn't cost us anything: but we apparantly didn't have a hotel ticket. We were taken back to the airport. The servant attendant kept bothering us, asking us what we were going to do, and kept giving us suggestions. This was really annoying,
because he was saying all this in Chinese, and the time it took me to interpret it took out of my time of trying to think of what we were going to do next. I really wanted him to leave us alone. He started offering us a ride to a hotel for 300 yuan. I gave him a dirty look, told him we would rather sleep in the airport, and walked as quickly away from him as I could. Then another boy started following us, offering us a taxi for 200 yuan. I was really pissed off. I sharply told him to leave us alone.
Bekah and I slept, or did we?, in the airport that night. I was so glad to get back in Dalian. But I was home for enough time to take a shower before going to a foreign teacher's meeting.
I had an amazing two weeks. I can't believe how relieved I was to be back in China. I missed it so and I missed attempting Chinese. What will I do??? (I wish you could add music to these blogs. Does China have a national anthem? If it does, I've probably already heard it on a
cellphone and not even known it.....)((I think "Bie Hai Shou" is China's theme song. Dui bu dui?))
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