Del Norte

Trip Start Jul 29, 2009
Trip End Jan 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
Oriental Guesthouse

Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, October 24, 2009

We were fortunate enough to get a bus driver from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh that didn't wear diapers this time, but I think he should have been wearing some glasses or possibly a straight jacket. Unfortunately for us he obviously had never driven a bus before because as he sped through the extremely crowded streets of Siem Reap honking and yelling like a wild maniac, he ran over a little girl on a bike. So that wasn't a very good start to our trip. I think that the little girl was miraculously okay, considering, from my angle, it looked like he hit her head-on... with a bus. So they put her in a car and took her to the hospital. At that point we were ready to get the hell out of Cambodia. 
We finally got to Bangkok, spent two night there and then prepared for our trip to Chiang Mai. We took a 13 hour train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It was a heck of a ride. The train was ancient and despite paying for air conditioned seats, we were given seats in the very back of the train with not even a fan. We have also found that everywhere we have been in SE Asia, they have a sort of Rosa Parks seating arrangement going on. All of the us filthy Westerners are forced to sit in the back of buses, train, etc., while the locals, who most likely paid 1/10th the price that we did, get the good seats. Luckily, when we started getting close to Chiang Mai, seats in the front of the train started opening up, so we all decided to pounce on the opportunity. So for once the rich, white men were in control (haha)! When we got into Chiang Mai, we took a taxi to our surprisingly nice hotel, ate some sweet, sweet Mexican Food next door and went to bed. 
The next day we walked around town looking at the Buddhist monasteries around town. They were all very unique and amazing, each in their own way. Along the way, we also realized that we could be paying 100 Baht (about 3 bucks) for lodging, so we plan to do that when we come back to Chiang Mai. Although it is nice to have a more luxurious room and swimming pool once again. The next day we took an all day tour that took us white water rafting, to see and ride Asian Elephants, float on a bamboo raft, and see the Karen Hilltribe, AKA the "longnecks". We weren't really very happy about how crappily the Thai people treated the elephants. Without going into much detail I will just say that we were tempted to punch the guy guiding our elephant in the back of the head and say "NO!!!" He was sitting on the elephant's head and whenever the elephant would do something that he disapproved of, he would hit it in the head with a large stick with a large nail fastened to it. Not very cool. So we won't be doing anymore elephant tours while we are here. Tara has become an animal rights activist just during our time here and I'm about to join her, now realizing that this is the way these endangered species are being treated. 
Tara took off for a couple days to go up north to Pai and to the Cave Lodge, a place that came highly recommended by our good buddies Wynkoop, Cari, Gleeson and Sam. I stayed behind because I got sick, once again. When she returned, we moved to a less expensive guest house. On November 1st, began the Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival. We went out last night and checked out the festivities. It was a great experience! The locals light candles inside miniature hot air balloon and let them go all at once. It makes for quite a beautiful sight to see all of them flying into the nighttime sky together. Tara and I bought one too for a dollar and let one go for good luck. It is a symbolic way to let the worries of the people be lifted and floated away. We also got some sushi and noodles, mmmmmm. For the rest of our time here in Chiang Mai, we took a Thai cooking class, got a Thai massage, and tried not to get blown up by the thousands of fireworks that were being set off for the festival. We are going to fly to Bangkok then take a bus to Chumphon, then board a boat that will take us to our next desination, Koh Tao. It should be a horribly long next couple of days, but will be worth the trip once we get there.

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