Chiangers - treks and scooters galore

Trip Start Mar 11, 2006
Trip End Apr 18, 2006

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Wednesday, April 5, 2006

We've had a pretty good day, been busy so haven't been on the Internet in the last couple of days. So... here's the rundown, arrived in Chiang Mai on Monday and stayed at a place called the White house - was ok but nothing flash. Ended up shifting to SK house (which has a pool!), costs 150B more but that's worth it and is only NZ$6 anyway.

Did a cooking course on Tuesday and met a few people, four of which are staying at SK house and recommended it to us. (We'd read bad reviews but they seem to have either cleaned up their act or were unfounded.) Two are from NZ but only one of them is a kiwi, his fiancee is a Canadian. The cooking course was good fun and we made five dishes - all from scratch! Firstly went down to the market and picked up the food for the cooking, which was also a lesson in Thai veges, fruit and other foods. We got to eat throughout the day and were pretty stuffed by the end. The highlight foods were the red curry (which took about an hour or more to prepare) and the spring rolls. We went and hired a scooter for 5 days after the cooking as it's convenient and cheap, got one for $5 a day and it's quite new. Trudie had a lesson (from me) on the scooter yesterday and enjoyed the ride. She'd been saying to me why can't I drive so I thought we'd better start with learning to ride it! Maybe another practise for her tomorrow. The cooking course was 800 baht each or about $NZ30.

We went to the night market the later in the day (and also the next night with Pete and Lianne. The night market or bazaar as they call it is huge and lines several streets with stalls sometimes 4 across. They sell handmade crafts (some aren't so handmade) and rip off clothes and shoes. While there is much rip off clothing some of it is made in Thailand and is genuine! I grabbed a pair of jeans, Diesel jeans for NZ$24 and was stoked as they are NZ$600 at home. They're real, just made here! I want to grab some more thing before we go too! They're too cheap to miss. There are also little (poor) children trying to make a buck, they only know the english for hello - twenty baht. It wears thin when they come over and repeat it fifty times and then another half dozen do the same thing. They try to sell flower necklaces for the twenty baht. Maybe if they learnt to say - I am poor and need for food buy my necklace for twenty baht. Or even shorter - am poor, need food twenty baht? Lianne felt sorry for the first little girl that asked for 20 baht and bought her a 200baht dress. The little girl was very happy, though 30 minutes later she came up to each of us asked for 20 baht. She didn't remember Lianne and didn't have the dress on either!

Had a rest day yesterday, cruised on our scooter to a big mall (Airport Plaza Mall) and had a look around. It was a little bit of a mission to get there on the busy roads but the drivers are very considerate, especially to novice farrang (foreigners). Was nice and cool with air conditioning inside while the day outside was hot. Didn't buy anything except a coffee each (iced) from starbucks.

We went on an organised tour today to a couple hill tribes, riding elephants and floating down a river on bamboo rafts today. It was pretty fun but not exactly what Trudie expected. The elephants were hard to hold onto, even though we were in seats with handles. The elephants were pretty used to the whole thing and not in a hurry to get anywhere. Some of the elephants were naughty and ripped branches from trees and crapped, farted and sprayed water/dirt or both. Ours was a good elephant, I think it was the best ;) The hill tribes weren't what we expected and you could get to them off the road with no walking! They trade at the night bazaar, in fact 90% of the night bazaar traders are from the Hmong tribe! Apparently they were very good warriors and have fought for the US in the past but now with no one to fight they are focussing on trade and do very well at it! The bamboo rafting was fun though not what we expected either. Picture huge pieces of bamboo, 20cm in diameter and 10 metres long strapped together at 8 across. Trudie and Natalya (Russian lady on the tour) sat in the middle the 'driver' stood at the front and me at the back also standing. The driver and I had smaller bamboo poles, probably 4 metres long for pushing the raft like a gondola. Right - that all sounds fine but we went down rapids and squeezed between rocks. Yeah, sounds interesting eh... Now it was kinda like a battle, each raft would try and soak every other raft with their hands, cut off bottles, buckets, lids and sticks. Within 10 minutes we were soaked! That's not all, all along the side of the river and in the river were Thai families, hundreds of people and they spashed all the rafts too! I think it was like a Thai adventure ride and the river was the equivalent of wet and wild! It was good fun but we did get very wet and it was hard work on the raft for the 45 minutes we travelled.

We've just been out for dinner and had hamburgers, they were quite good but not great. You have to be picky with western food here. it's not always what you expect! We're going to Muay Thai (kickboxing) in about 20 minutes. There are 8 fights and it sounds like it'll be great!

14/04 - Looking back (have been slack with updates!)
Kickboxing was pretty good but mainly younger people, some as young as 10 I'd say. They are all very serious and try very hard. The older fighters were quite good and violent. We had a couple that endedup a bit bloody, at times we almost had to scatter as they looked to be about to be knocked out the ring. The seats we had were front row, though the place wasn't very packed.

Oh yes... I didn't sleep well at all last night and my bad stomach that I have had all week has caught up on me. Trudie is,'t feeling well either and we end up sleeping for the majority of the day. By the later afternoon Trudie feels a bit better and sitsoutside in the sun and reads her book. I'm not great and don't make it very far that day! Tonight I sleep a bit better and wake up feeling mostly better but we have a slow day. Sleep in and a cruise down to the internet place are about all we manage until around dinner time. About 4:30 we take the scooter over to the Warorot market which either we missed or seems to blend in to the night markets. One thing leads to another and we end up on a shopping spree and spend at least 1000 baht (NZ$40). Not really a big shopping spree I guess but we did buy a few things, mostly clothes and things for the house (when we get a new one!) We have dinner at a Italian restaurant that turns out to very nice but expensive by Thai standards.

Next day we're flying to Hanoi, via Bangkok. It's exciting to be going somewhere else after being in Thailand for a while. We're hoping that Vietnam will be as exciting as Thailand. The flights are fine and only one of them is delayed, though both have gate changes which seems to be typical with Air Asia flights.
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