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Published: April 3rd 2010
Chiang Mai is a beautiful city, much more peaceful than Bangkok and a bit cooler at night. We arrived from the 12 hour night bus at 6am and were shuttled to a guest house (nice place 2) where we were given the intro from the hotel owner about the different trekking options and things to do here. We decided that after a much needed recovery sleep that we would do the 3 day trek the next day. (Sleeping on a night bus with full blast air-con in shorts and a t-shirt is next to impossible. The first two or so hours is nice but then it get to the point of freezing and you spend the next 10 hours shivering)
Chiang Mai is known for many things, one being the night markets. On Saturdays and Sundays they have quite a large market down one of the main roads in town. The vendors come out at about 4pm and lay out their wares, ready for sales at about 6pm. From that point on it gets extremely busy, making it hard to navigate around the stream of people constantly flowing down the road. Most of the items sold are locally hand-made and are
unique to the area. There are also a large number of food stalls, selling everything from pancakes and waffles to Pad Thai and ‘street meat’ (fried chicken on a stick) as well as some Thai favourites that we were a bit too nervous to try.
After a day of recovering from the bus ride and a wander through the Sunday night market we embarked on a three day trek with 11 other people (a bunch of Brits, one from Scotland, two Welsh, an Austrian and Dutch as well as one other Canadian) and three local guides (Beckham, Tom Cruise and Jack Black)
We started off the first day (after a two hour drive) with an elephant ride through the dry, deadened jungle, followed by another hour drive where we stopped to have lunch and enjoy a bit of armature Thai boxing from our guide. After this we started the hiking. We hiked up a Massive field on a fairly steep slope and then a bit of jungle trekking to our first village where the Lhasu people were living. It was a fair sized village, but very poor, with chickens and pigs running wild all over. The boys quickly engaged in
a game of soccer (football for you UK people) against some of the local Thai men and children. I think we won but am not sure as about ¾ of the way through the match Scott and a near tumble and got quite the gash on his foot so we quickly went back and mended it (Thanks to the help of the awesome First aid kit thank you Aunty Pat!!).
After everyone came back and cleaned up we had a delicious meal prepared by our guides on some straw mats, and were then treated to a show by some of the local woman (and one very energetic and sporadic young boy). They were dressed in traditional clothing and preformed a traditional welcoming song to their village, as well as a number of other songs. Then over a couple of beers we played some cards, learned some card tricks from the locals and just relaxed before our (in total) 5 hour hike the next day.
An early start too day two started off with a quick breakfast of (cold) toast and eggs and was followed by a hike up one of the steepest slopes I’ve trekked up for about an
hour. After mending my blisters and catching our breath near the top we continued on a less steep, mostly flat path to our lunch spot and a really nice waterfall with a small swimming pool where we were all able to cool off a bit (except for poor Scott who was still on the mend from his toe from the soccer match). An hour break with lunch and it was back to it with the trekking, this time on a much more pleasurable path that was for the most part flat, and half of it was along a small stream into the next village. We stayed in a bamboo hut like the first night, almost surrounded by vegetable and rice fields. After another fantastic dinner was followed by some socializing over drinks and a ridiculous game of clapping and numbers, where if you got it wrong you had your face covered in soot by Beckham. After making sure we cleaned their small beer cooler out it was bed.
The third and final day of our trek was through a brown jungle, everything feels like it’s in a very deep fall, where everything is dying just before winter. The only exception
is the cicadas which were noisy and absolutely everywhere. It was the noisiest dead jungle I have ever seen. When we finally left the brown dry jungle we came out on some more vegetable fields and wound up on a small bridge above a slow moving river. Here we had lunch before some bamboo rafting which left us all soaking wet. Three days for the trek seemed the right amount, any less and I’m sure we would have felt like we left something out, and any longer would have left us so utterly exhausted I’m sure we wouldn’t have had the energy for much else the next few days.
After returning from the trek our guide offered to take us to a Muay Thai boxing match for a discounted price, ring side. It was quite good, although I think the best part was watching the blind boxers. They had three blindfolded boxers come out and go at it, although I think the ref got the majority of the punches. After this we went out to some local clubs and celebrated the hard trek being over.
The next day was pretty much a write off as we all hung out by
the pool and enjoyed the sun. Scott and I had planned to leave Thailand for about 10 days as our visas were soon to run out, and we had some time to kill. Our original plan was to go into Rayngon, Burma (Myanmar) for 10 days and then head down to Koh Phangan for Thai New Year. After talking to everyone else form our trek we decided to change that and leave Burma for later on as everyone else was going onto Laos, and we knew that we wanted to see Laos anyways. We also had such a great time with everyone that we figured traveling with a good group of people for awhile wouldn’t be a bad thing.
So after a day of planning and preparing we’re off on a three day adventure, one day on the bus with a stop overnight in Chiang Khong, and then a two day slow boat into Luang Prabang, Laos.
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