Thailand - perennial favorite even in turmoil

Trip Start Feb 07, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Leigh and Scott's family house

Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chiang Mai is known as an outdoors paradise and continues to rank among backpacker favorite cities.I'd already been in the area on my former travels and done a trek through the hillside villages, so we opted for some different activities this go around.

After a fun-filled night at Chiang Mai's famous night bazaar, we went in search of the jungle. ATVs area  popular method for touring the hills and seemed second nature to me as a girl raised in small town Louisiana! While in my neighborhood the kids rode them through the streets, our path was much more rugged, steep, scenic, and harrowing at times. It was my first time on the machine and though I was nervous, I'm always up for a new adventure sport. 3 hours later, our hands were numb from the gears and we were covered in dirt - but had some fun memories to share.

The next day we went for a meal near Leigh's house (which was gorgeous!) at the only restaurant cum post office down the road. The owner is a young, hip Thai guy who's interested in architecture and serves up a mean Phad Thai. It was odd and incredibly amusing to exit our meal and salute him on the floor up front, sorting through envelopes of that day's mail.

Next up we went for a day trip to the rooftop of Thailand at Doi Inthanon National Park, where we stood on the pinnacle of the country at a whopping 8,415 feet. We hiked, played in and took photos at waterfalls, and yes, ate well. That evening was highly entertaining as well. In lieu of frequenting a touristy or prostitute - filled bar for our Saturday night  on the town, we instead purchased a bottle of liquor in the 711 (Asia's #1 supply store) and prepared our own cocktails while we sat down for much-needed massages. Sitting with our self-service bar outside the massage parlor with friends while slightly drunk Thai women and men laugh with and entertain you is truly a one of a kind experience.

Our final adventure on day 3 was certainly a highlight. Flight of the Gibbons is increasing in popularity in the region and operates tours outside Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai. It's a zipline tour where you fly through the rainforest canopy while harnessed to lines above your body, and it's a thrill everyone should experience. Apparently the youngest thrill seeker on record for them was a mere 2 year old! The "flight" has just the right dose of fun and adventure without being too edgy, and it's incredibly well designed (by a German) and safe. It was also a fun bonding experience for the group. The trip features descents on a line, flights across the canopy and sky bridges, all with funny and friendly tour guides who know how to operate even the most complex cameras, a handy ability indeed!

We made it out of the country safely and due to the ongoing instability in Bangkok, spent another 7 hour layover at the airport. Let me share with you dear readers, that being stuck in this airport is perhaps one of the best places to be stuck - ever. Our 7 hours flew by as we went for more massages (no surprises there), manicures and pedicures, and even got amazing $25USD haircuts at the Toni and Guy in the airport! And, if you still have some baht remaining after a day of relaxing beauty treatments, I recommend visiting one of the drug stores in the airport. Over the counter drugs and even sleeping aids are on offer for a fraction of the price of what you'll pay back home. Thailand, I'll be back.

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