These boots were made for trekking, but not me

Trip Start Jan 01, 2011
Trip End Mar 21, 2011

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, we spent the day wandering around the old town of Chiang Mai and visiting some more temples. Outside of Bangkok, Chiang Mai has the most wats in Thailand. We stopped for lunch after a couple of wats and as we were waiting for our food, a gecko fell from the roof and bounced off my shoulder onto my lap. I quickly brushed it off, but couldn't muffle my squeal. After checking out a handful of wats, we headed back to our guesthouse for some pool time and reading.

In the evening, we headed over to the Sunday Walking Street. Each Sunday, one of the major roads in the old city is closed to traffic and is turned into a giant market from 4pm to midnight. The market started outside the main gate and went all the way to the end of the road. I expected only the main road to be closed, but several of the side streets were closed as well. It was extremely busy, probably the busiest we have seen Chiang Mai so far. Both sides of the streets were lined with vendors (sometimes there were some in the middle as well). In the middle, there were musicians performing every couple steps. The grounds of each wat was turned into a food market. This is where we ate dinner. We picked our way through and tried a bunch of different things (a couple of Chiang Mai sausages, Khao Soi (a noodle dish), thai ice tea and coffee, thai jelly, coconut balls, pineapple, pad thai, fried rice).

Today (Monday), we went on a one day trek with Panda tours. We were picked up at our guesthouse at 8:10 and then were transferred to a covered pick up truck, which was quite cramped with lots of people in the back. We drove for over an hour outside of the city up into the hills, where we then started our trek. On the trek, we saw two hill tribe villages, a waterfall and a cave. I was quite happy with the hill tribe village visit. Instead of going to a 'show' village, we trekked through real villages and got to see how they really lived. The villages were empty as we went through as the villagers were out working the farms.

Other than seeing the villages, I disliked the trek. It was not what I was expecting. It was a really difficult 6 hour hike through the jungle on a narrow path that was sometimes overgrown, partially missing or blocked. It was also very slippery in parts, especially when it started to rain (this was the first rain we have seen in our 10 days here).Somehow, out of the group of 7, Jeff and I were the only ones covered in dirt and plants by the end! I didn't get much of a chance to enjoy the trek as I was so busy watching my footing so I didn't roll down the hill and looking out for bugs, snakes and spiders. At the end, I found out from our guide that snakes are not an issue at this time of year as it is winter. In the winter (summer is March, April, May), the snakes are in their holes as it is too cold for them to be out. Phew.

I really wanted to like the trek, but just couldn't. At least the lunch was tasty, with amazing herb fried chicken and seasoned sticky rice in a banana leaf.

Coming back into Chiang Mai, the traffic was really heavy. Apparently, the city used to have a public transportation system, but they got rid of it and now everyone has to drive to get around, which has led to the congestion. Once back, we scrubbed ourselves in the shower and then went out for our last dinner in Chiang Mai.
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