Chiang Mai

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September 3rd 2010
Published: October 11th 2010
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Fish cakes, curry, steamed fish curry, fried tofu with peanut sauce, and fried rice. It was enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
After a sleepless night on the train we arrived at Chiang Mai train station. We took a free lift from one of the hotel touts at the station entrance and ended up at SK Guesthouse in the middle of old Chiang Mai. The accommodation was a little basic for the money so we decided to go next door after talking to a french guy that had spent a whole day looking for accommodation and treks. A much better hotel for the same money.

We organised a trek with the hotel we stayed in. It turned out they are in some of the guide books any way. The hotel next door, SK House, have paid/bribed someone so that they are the only hotel that is allowed to tout for business at Chiang Mai train station. So I would recommend avoiding them just for that reason if nothing else.

We chose a two day trek. The first day was treking in the rain - the way we seem to be doing most of our treks! We first visited a waterfall where you can swim, next on to some natural hot springs where you can swim or just laze around. After that was the proper walking. At times I slipped down the hill more than I made progress up it but generally it was okay - nothing can be as bad as sa pa. Because it was raining all the tarantula holes were full of water, you could see the crab sised spiders sitting next to there holes wondering what was going on. Luckly Barbora didn't see any of these. I mentioned it afterwards when we were well clear of the jungle - well nearly clear :-)

The next day was an easy day. We started off with an elephant trek. Then we went bamboo rafting. The rafting turned out to be quite adventurous. Because there was so much rain a four hour rafting trip turned into one hour. Our raft capsized after the first five minutes and all our bags got wet.

The lady that ran the hotel recommended a cooking course to us from the lady that taught her mother to cook. She has a little restaurant down the back streets. Before we started our cooking day the lady's husband took us to the local market to buy some food for cooking. It was more a show the

Apparently riding on elephant backs is not good for them. So don't do it.
tourists around the market trip than a productive shopping trip but was an interesting experience with no other tourists in site. On the way back from the market her husband asked if we were in a hurry. We said no. So he said he would show us some more of proper Thailand. So he took us to the local bank so he could withdraw some money then he took us to the local pawn shop so he could buy back some of his gold. Apparently gold is a good thing to pawn as it is so small and valuable. Eventually we got back to the cooking. We selected five dishes from her extensive restuarant menu and the two of us had a day of cooking. We cooked steamed fish curry, chicken fried rice, mushroom stuffed tofu, sweet green curry, and fish cakes! We made three slightly different curry pastes for the fish cakes, green curry, and steamed fish curry. All of which we're very nice, but not as good as the ones the teacher cooked with the same ingredients. We had enough food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and take away the next morning! Some of the cooking schools recommended in the guide book can have up to fifty students in the class. So we think we did alright!

As part of the anti tourist visa measures that Thailand have introduced you now only get a fifteen day when you cross into Thailand by land. It used to be thirty days, and still is 30 days if you enter the country by air. Maybe the airlines trying to get a little more business?

So on my last day in Chiang Mai I took a trip to the golden triangle with included lunch and the opportunity for me to hop across the border into Burmur, or the union of Mynamar as it is called. At ten USD it is one of the cheaper visa hops you can do but unfortunately the cash goes to supporting the millatary governement there. When I handed my passport to the Burmur soldier the first feelings of unease started. These feelings were soon confirmed when I was offered 100 baht (two pounds) for a prostitute for an hour by one of a flock of men all trying to sell tourists the same thing. If you don't want a hundred Baht prostitute you can also by viagra, knifes, Sadam huesan playing cards and various other items all for one hundred Baht. After that it was a long bus ride back to Chiang Mai.

After our cockroach experience on the journey to Chiang Mai we decided it would be quicker and cleaner to fly down to the islands. We booked a flight to Phuket and ended up staying in Patong beach for a night. OMG! Don't bother going there unless you want over priced food, sex tourism and go go bars. Luckly the next day we got up early and caught the bus and over night boat to Koh Tao.


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