Firstly...we just want to congratulate our friends Becky and Rich on their wedding back in the UK...sorry we couldn't make it but all the best anyway and have a great honeymoon in Africa (we are sure you will but watch out for the rhinos)!
The flight had a bit of turbulence as we approached Chiang Mai but nothing too major.
Chiang Mai is a moated city and is the largest city in Northern area among the highest mountains in Thailand. Our first night was spent just outside the centre in the bustling night bazaars. After hours of walking through street and centre markets we still hadn’t seen it all – this is definitely the largest market we have encountered and is full of stuff we would love to buy such a fantastic silk duvet for £12 and tonnes of wooden or stone artefacts, jewellery and craftwork at very cheap prices. The craftwork was amazing including soaps carved to look like flowers in small wooden boxes – we couldn’t believe at first that they were made of soap until we
saw a woman carving one as we watched. There was also a big firework display on one of the bridges to celebrate the friendship between Thailand and Japan – another highlight to such an amazing night! On the way back from the markets we stumbled upon a Thai boxing show, so we watched two young boys and then two young girls fight it out in a ring – we saw a knock-out in the third round of the boys match. The girls seemed to be just as tough, kicking and punching each other but there wasn’t a knock-out in that match.
The next day we wondered through the main city which is filled with Wats and Stupas in typical Thai style and day markets held at some of the temples and streets (as if the huge night markets aren’t enough!). We returned to the night market for dinner – 80 pence a meal from stalls that sold all manner of cuisines. They were not large portions but was just enough for us and excellent value.
On one day we booked an excursion to see a few attractions in the area. Firstly we were taken to a river to take a cruise on a bamboo raft for an hour. The river was not very deep and occasionally the raft scraped along the rocks underneath. The guy who was steering us seemed to be a bit mischievous and kept trying to ground another raft on the tour but it backfired on him as we hit a large rock which jolted the raft abruptly and sent him hurling into the river! It did not stop him though and when he climbed back on the raft he continued to
play the other guy up. After the rafting we were taken to the elephant show to watch elephants play football, move huge logs around and then one elephant named Suda painted a picture of a baby elephant holding a bunch of flowers. She even signed the painting and did a better job than we could as well. I had heard about elephants who paint in Thailand but I thought it was a bit of a farce until we saw this show. They may not know what they
are drawing but it is still an incredible task. Then, after the show we fed some more elephants bananas and sugar cane before taking a ride on one of the huge creatures. Our elephant was a girl, 21 years old called Sinda. She took us through the river and into the jungle along a rugged path. It was a bumpy ride but very, very enjoyable. To take us back, we hopped on an ox cart. Half way round Waffle was given the opportunity to steer us along
but the ox knew the way back so he didn’t have to do much really...We had a great day full of experiences that we won’t forget. A large buffet lunch was included in the deal so we really got our money’s worth. The only poor part of the day was when they took us to an orchid farm on the way back which took about 5 minutes to see but the minibus took off and did not show up again for an hour so it got a bit boring and we were feeling quite tired and just wanted to go back to the hotel for a rest.
Waffle bought 10 charoots from the market which are handmade cigars from Burma – I even tried a bit of one and felt a little high from it (this may have also been because we had been downing several tequila shots in El Diablos, a burrito restaurant before hand and was starting to feel a little merry!). There are still a few things that we want to do in Chiang Mai so we have extended our hotel stay for another 6 days (up to the end of our 15 day visa). I really want to see the long-necked tribes and go to the tiger kingdom before we leave. We are then going to Singapore for 2 days (it is very expensive and is really just a shopping city so we decided to shorten our stay there) and then we are off to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia...