Chiang Mai

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September 25th 2008
Published: September 27th 2008
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Looking from Thailand, with Myanmar to the left and Laos to the right
I love Chiang Mai. It's the old capital of Northern Thailand, but it's got much more of a small city feel to it than sprawling Bangkok.

On my first day there I take an elephant trek through part of the jungle, and get to sit on the elephant's head, feeding it bananas. In the afternoon I pole a bamboo raft (literally 10 bamboo poles lashed together) down a river and over rapids. Everyone gets completely soaked, and the ride culminates with most of us rafters throwing ourselves of a 10m high rock inot the river. In the evening, I eat out in the huge open air night-market and then go to a local stadium to watch Muai Thai boxing. It's kick-ass!

The next day I take a Thai-cookery class, beginning in a local market - the teacher showing us the local produce - buying what we need for the class as we go (including some beautiful prawns!). We get to cook spicy Tom Yam soup, Pad Thai, Green Curry and sticky rice with mango. All of the food is amazing!

From Chiang Mai I catch a bust to Chiang Rai, to begin a 3-day trek visiting some of the native hill-tribes (the Lisu and Akha). The trek is pretty tough, but the tribes are really friendly and they prepare us some lovely food. We also get lucky with the weather, as it had rained for ten days straight before our trek began.

I also have time to nip across the border into Myanmar (formerly Burma) - another stamp for the passport!

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