Trip Start Nov 30, 2012
16Trip End Jan 14, 2013
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Where I stayed
Mandala House Chiang Mai
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
We checked in & were taken to our room, the 14th hotel of the trip. After such a shocking journey it was nice to get somewhere that was new & clean. We freshened up & headed off into Chiang Mai in search of a market that our hotelier had told us about. We wanted to book white water rafting as well so we had a few bits to do.
Now, Chiang Mai is a really nice place. You have the old town inside the moat. It's here & around the outskirts of it that the majority of the nightlife is happening. The only thing is that it's so easy to get lost. We managed to do just that a couple of times in the first few hours alone.
The market was our first port of call where we picked up a few bits
Next stop was to book our trip for the morning. We found a crazy little Thai man who helped us get a pretty good deal so with that done we had a little wonder about before getting to bed for a good nights sleep.
With breakfast done we were picked up & headed off into the mountains that overlook Chiang Mai for our day on the river.
There were 12 of us in our group & our guide explained to us that we would be stopping at the elephant farm first to drop the guys off who had booked it. They went onto to ride the rest of the way to where we started the rafting. Whilst we drove ahead & waited for them we had time to get some lunch
A quick briefing from the crazy man & we were off to the river bank. We had been paired with a couple of guys from India. One very small & skinny, the other was quite a big lad. Our guide positioned us in the boat so that our weight was distributed evenly with the skinny lad on my side.
The river was a grade 3 of 6 in difficulty. We set off paddling down stream with Lisa sat to my left & the lads behind us. From the first stroke I knew the skinny guy behind me was going to be useless. The paddle weighed more than him. It didn't take long to find out just how useless he actually was as we struggled to keep the raft heading in a straight line. The fact neither of these guys could swim made it very interesting every time we came close to falling out.
The stretch of river we were going down was 10km long. We were eased into the rafting as the first lot of rapids were reasonably tame. Our guide in the back was basically acting as our rudder which was really helpful in compensating for the passenger sat behind me.
As we approached the next set we could tell by the tree line up ahead that we were in for a rocky ride
We made it through the second lot of rapids & waited for the other 2 rafts in our group to join us. Our guide instructed us to 'go right' which meant Lisa & the other guy had to lean across me & the passenger in order to balance the weight of the raft. As soon as they came across the guide tipped us out into the water! It was quite funny & nowhere near as cold as we thought it was going to be. The guide had no idea that the other guys in our raft couldn't swim. After their 'near death experience' they realised they could stand up but the current so really strong so they held hands until we got back in the raft. Bless.
We headed through a few more rapids before we came to the main one. It was a lot longer than the others & we could see that the route was going to be a lot more difficult. It's hard to explain how it went exactly but on one occasion we got stuck on some rocks before finally wriggling loose. Then we had to manoeuvre between some ridiculously large boulders after coming down a fast rapid. We squeezed through there & before we knew it were back onto calm water & heading towards the end of the trip
Before we had set off we had given the video camera to one of the rescue team so they could get some photos. At the end of the trip we had a look through & were surprised at how many good photos he'd taken, not only of us but the rest of the group as well. We now have a huge list of people to send photos to from both Halong Bay & now this! Great day. We really enjoyed it.
When we got back to the room we got showered & headed out into town to get some dinner. We were both starving due to our eggy rice lunch so went to the area near the market bazaar. Just down from where we had booked to have our Xmas day dinner was a nice little restaurant called Lemongrass. Unbelievably nice food.
We went round the market for a bit together before splitting up in search of Xmas presents for each other. With all of our Xmas shopping done inside an hour for less than €20 we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.
Ho, ho, ho
We started to wake up around 07:30. Lisa wanted a couple more hours sleep so I headed to the gym at one of the 5* hotels pretending I was staying there.
When I got back Lisa was up & showered, ready to get our presents out from underneath our awesome Christmas tree! We had used newspaper & toilet roll as wrapping paper as we couldn't find any the night before. We will definitely have to make up for this Christmas next year!
With the presents out of the way & breakfast done we headed into the old town in search of somewhere for Lisa to get her nails done. We found a salon right next to McDonalds, which worked out quite nicely because we didn't want to go for Xmas dinner starving!
A cheeky McSpicy chicken sandwich each & we were on our way in search of a nice bar to have a few drinks before our Xmas meal. We crossed the river where we found a nice little bar called Riverside. A few drinks there & we were just about ready to head to the Red Lion for our dinner.
The Red Lion had some excellent reviews online so we were certain we had made a good choice. They had a few sittings spread out from 13:00 until 19:00 & they were fully booked. We got in there & our table was ready with Santa hats at the ready for us to look stupid. The food came out pretty quick & it went down even quicker. The cheeky McDonalds earlier in the day was a precaution for this exact situation we now found ourselves in!
Luckily, we had eaten just about enough & after popping back to our room to get some more money we headed to a nice little Irish bar. We were extremely jealous of the Xmas spread they had put on so we went & sat on the balcony upstairs. A few drinks there, then a few more at a little bar on the outskirts of the old quarter & we were ready for bed.
Today was our last day in Chiang Mai. Our fight wasn't until 21:45 so we decided to get a moped out for about 11:00 & head off in search of Tiger Kingdom. We had looked into it the day before & knew it wasn't too far so we set off towards the main road that led us to it
It took us about 35 minutes to get there. We parked up & headed off to see what package we were going to do. We decided on the smallest of the tigers, mainly because of Lisa's lifelong nightmare of being eaten alive by a giant tiger. We got our tickets & headed off to the enclosure.
We were surprised at how many people were waiting to go inside but there was a total of about 8 tiger cubs so it didn't take too long. Everyone had to wear the same blue flip flops inside. It had something to do with familiarity for the cubs.
Our guide took us over to a little cub that was asleep in the corner
With our time with the cubs done we headed off in to the park to have a look at the bigger tigers. Just after the main cage, where the majority of the tigers were kept, we found a building with the smallest of tiger cubs in. They were fast asleep & no bigger than a small domestic cat. Lisa wanted to 'borrow' one but the camera watching us prevented it! We also managed to find a lion but it was fast asleep on top of a giant concrete slab.
We headed back out towards the restaurant where we planned on getting a drink whilst we watched the bigger tigers in their enclosure
After a quick catch up we were back out in the car park looking at where to head to next. We decided to check out the monkey park that was about 15 minutes down the road. When we got there we paid our ticket & went inside. The car park looked empty but there was a coach there so we assumed they would be inside.
As we made our way to the first monkey enclosure we could see straight away that we were the only people in there & that it wasn't a very big place. The monkeys were chained up by their necks & didn't have too much room to run about. One of them had so much time on his hands that he had learnt how to pleasure himself orally. It was like Animal Planet.
In all it took us about 10 minutes to look at the monkeys. We were told there would be a show after about half an hour so we sat at a table & waited for that. Next to us were 2 monkeys in cages. A Thai guy came over & put the smallest one, Euro, on a chain & brought him over to our table
Some other people had turned up by now so they were getting ready to start the show. They had monkeys riding a bicycle, playing basketball & even selling monkey balm. A lot better than we had expected when we first walked in.
With the show out of the way we thought we would head off in search of elephants. We knew the Elephant Nature Park was close by & after some research we'd both decided that it was the only park we would pay to go to because they promote themselves on how well the animals are treated.
We went into the car park & found a spot to leave the bike. I put the stand down but it was on a ledge so I moved it back slightly. As I did the stand came down on to my toes taking the skin off of the front of 2 of them. Not wanting them to get infected we left & headed off in search of a chemist
By now it was about 17:00 which left us about 2 hours until the bike had to be back. For food we decided to go back to Lemongrass. It was without a doubt the best food we had eaten on the trip so far.
Lisa had seen a top that she really wanted that was 'on the corner'. I didn't want to walk to far because my toe was throbbing so we walked to the corner. Then we walked to another corner...& then corner before she finally found what she was looking for.
We made our way back to the hotel, handed back the keys for the bike so I could get my passport back then waited for our taxi to the airport.
Everything went like clock work & we were in Phuket before we knew being greeted by the girlfriend of my mate, Martyn, where we were taken to our hotel in Patong. By now it was 01:00 so time for some sleep.
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