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August 13th 2012
Published: August 13th 2012
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Wat Phrathat Doi SuthepWat Phrathat Doi SuthepWat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Me in the inner sanctuary of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, overlooking Chiang Mai city
So I write this on a cloudy drizzling English summers afternoon, wearing jeans for the first time in at least 6 months. Good to be back! It was amazing to see the family again, and also some friends. Now I have a little time to reflect on my year before I jump headlong into the world of work!

I left you last time on the overnight express up to Chiang Mai in North Thailand. Chiang Mai is a beautifully laid back city, with what would have been wonderful temples had I not been templed out (after you have seen one, you've seen them all). I stayed in a hostel with a delightful man/lady boy, not really sure which one but I think he cross-dresses just on weekends so that's ok right? I explored a waterfall up the hill, hugged some tigers, and visited the best handicraft centre I have ever seen, for those that are heading to Chiang Mai be sure to check out the Bo Seng Handicraft Village, it's amazing.

That weekend I hired out a moped and did the highly recommended mountain road through the jungle to Pai in the North. The ride was absolutely stunning, high
Millenium Hilton BangkokMillenium Hilton BangkokMillenium Hilton Bangkok

Infinity pool on the 4th floor
mountain passes with views down on jungle valleys, with georgeous winding bends on the way down, interspersed with waterfalls and a hot water spring (which emerged at 80 degrees C at the top of the hill, you dont swim there!). I was told about some good rock climbing in Pai but unfortunately they only run that in the off-season when the water is too low for their main trade, white-water rafting. So I made do with a day of rafting down Pai River in the national park with a bit of cliff jumping and a following Kingfisher or two, such is life.

The ride back had to be made late into the evening as a friend had to get back to work in Chiang Mai the next day, luckily the hills my 125 cc struggled with on the way up were downhill on the way back so we made good time, and managed to celebrate the very long day with a beer in Chiang Mai's rooftop bar.

After Chiang Mai I headed south to Bangkok to meet my family for my last two weeks, stopping over at Ayuthaya, Thailands capital during the Khmer empire. The ruins here rival

Thailand's "old capital"
those at Angkor, but lack the huge temple complex that gives Angkor Wat it's status.

Then family arrives! The first few nights we did stay in the Millenium Hilton hotel in Bangkok though (parents tend to have larger budgets than recent students). Then my travelling style immediately changed as we had just two weeks to get in all the highlights Thailand had to offer, whereas I took 3 visits of 15 days and still missed things out. This involved actually booking hostels in advanced and planning an itinerary, stressful times! But we succeeded in visiting some of the top spots. Koh Tao where my sister did some diving, and we all went on a repeat of the stunning snorkelling trip around the island. Koh Samui, a new island for me, where we made the most of a few patches of scorching sunshine between the early rainy season overcast skies. A flight took us to Chiang Mai , where we did a two day jungle trek including a few hours of white water rafting and an elephant ride. Then we stopped off at Sukhothai, a similar place to Ayuthaya with some stunning ruins, this time surrounded by a series of
Chiang Mai to PaiChiang Mai to PaiChiang Mai to Pai

One of the many breathtaking views on the jungle mountains road between Chiang Mai and Pai.

Then all there was to do was 3 days of shopping in Bangkok's many markets, the highlight of which was the Sunday market at Chatuchak. We wondered around this market for 5 hours and still think we didn't cover more than a quarter of it, it really was huge. After stocking up on fake boxers, jeans, and watches, all there was left to do was take the long taxi ride back to the airport, to mark the end of my year of travels.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them!

Additional photos below
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No Boil EggNo Boil Egg
No Boil Egg

This sign just made me wish I had brought an egg

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