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Published: December 16th 2009
Episode 3: Chiang Mai. December 13 -
(written by Craig).
We spent our last night in Bangkok on a river diner cruise, which was great. Amazing views of the Wats and Grand Palace,city lights,. etc lit up at night. And there were still fireworks for the King's Birthday - a seemingly endless event.
Earlier in the day, Ross went and got a haircut for the occasion. He came back with streaks in his hair. It looked great.
"Who did it?" I asked, "a girl or a guy?"
"Both ", he said.
"What do you mean?"
"A lady boy."
We drank far too much on the cruise, and found ourselves with a "Changover" the next day. But we dragged ourselves about the hotel, packing, and regrettably said goodbye to Bangkok and got the one hour flight North to Chiang Mai. (ie, from a crowded ,hot and hectic metropolis of 10 milliion people, to a charming small city of 250,000 !). Chiang Mai is really nice, with a more pleasant temp (about 28 degrees), and we are staying at an excellent B & B in the heart of the old city. (There is a crumbling wall around the city, and a moat).We have been getting tuk tuks everywhere here in Chiang Mai - I love siting in the back with wind in my face, zooming along.
We went up the mountain to beautiful Wat Doi Suthep, the golden temple over-looking the city. That only took half a day, so Ross retreated to the hotel for resting, while I took myself to Chiang Mai zoo. I'd heard that it was quite nice and I hoped to see some good examples of Asian species. And it was good, too, except for the oddity of a rifle range right in the middle of it, blaring Bon Jovi hits. I shared a songtheow back into town with a middle-aged American couple, who complained about the bumps and how they couldn't get good cheese in Chiang Mai. I resisted the urge to suggest that they should perhaps have stayed home in Woosyville, Arkansas.
On Sunday night we went to the famous Chiang Mai street market ,which was great. For dinner, we grazed on street food, joining the locals on rickety plastic stools where we ate all manner of things (e.g., an omlete-y thing in a banana leaf boat - (yum), Chinese sausage, egg pad thai, BBQ corn, quivering rubbery looking desserts. etc ). We then decided that, when in Chiang Mai, massages must be had (about $3 per hour), so we eased ourselves into it with foot massages while we watched the passing parade of people at the market. (Then got head/neck/back two days later. We both fell asleep).
The next day were booked on a day trip to Elephant Nature Park. one hour North. Unlike the myriad other places where elephants paint play soccer, offer rides, etc, this place is in a semi-wild valley setting that is home to retired work elephants and those recovering from abuse (e.g, one was addicted to amphetamines, and made to work day and night). The park emphasizes ethical treatment of elephants and shows a graphic video on how elephants are brutally "trained" in Thailand. We got to meet Lek - the very famous woman who devotes her life to this park and the elephanys (like, say, Jane Goodall, or Dianne Fossey). Anyway, we had a great group of people on our tour, but, most importantly, had a fantastic day with the elephants, feeding them, bathing with them in the river, and interacting with them. This included two babies (5 and 8 months old). That night back in Chiang Mai, we went to Ginger Kafe - an eatery with rave reviews on Trip Advisor. Well,....
it was probably the best Thai food we've ever had, in a lovely setting. I had a fried sea bass in crispy basil leaves and green pepper corns that was out of this world, while Ross had Khao Soi - regional specialty of yellow chicken curry with crispy noodles. The entrees were also excellent. The whole meal (plus 2 cocktails each) was $30 AUD each !
Today we went on a Thai cooking class, also another popular thing to do here in Chiang Mai. This was also excellent. Again a great bunch of people (Sue: we met a woman from Nova Scotia , Canada, who reminded us so much of you. She was slim, animated, intelligent, left wing and humorous and immediately bonded with Ross and I. We were catting about human rights when she raised the issue of gay marriage in Canada, and said: "I assume you two are a couple.".... I guess Ross must be sooooo obvious!). Anyway, we went to their organic farm and picked our own ingredients and made the best Thai food. We made ourt own curry pastes from scratch. It was all so much fun. I made chicken with cashews nuts (yes, Kevin), along with tom yum and other Thai delights. Then we all sat down and ate, then chatted. One of the great things about travelling is, of course, meeting other people from around the globe. There were Frenchies, two Dutch, the Canadian woman (Angela), an American, and Ross and I.All in all a great day.
Tomorrow we are considering what to do for our last day. The long neck tribes are a bit too far North and apparently it is very touristy and a freak show, so we may relax in town or hire a driver to go out in the countryside. Then on Friday we fly to Phuket - not to lie on a beach but to go up to Khao Sok National Park, 3 hours North. Yep, nature ! The beaches will come later.
For those of you whom I've just added to this recipient list, you can see my earlier posts by clicking on "previous" below.
Bye for now,
Craig and Ross
(Note: I can be contacted via e-mail on: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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