Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok

Trip Start Feb 11, 2007
Trip End ??? ??, 2008

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Monday, July 16, 2007

I am now back in Bangkok, and I am sad to say my latest adventure is nearing its end.  I head back to Singapore in the morning for one last hoorah, then it is back to Australia to tour around Perth before I must return to Melbourne and my final semester at uni.  This past week, however, has been marked with excitement, not limited to train breakdowns and elephant rides...I even rescued a man from a motorcycle crash!   I knew I only had about a week in Thailand, so I wanted to make the most of it.  I have always relished the chance to travel by rail, and as I heard this was an exceptionally scenic route,the choice was an easy one.  Normally taking about 10-12 hours, this particular journey met with a few setbacks... As we were nearing our destination, our surroundings transformed from abundant rice fields to dense mountain jungles.  As our seasoned transport approached the ensuing accent, it was not difficult to tell our speed began to decrease, so much so that we started to roll back in the opposite direction... We continued in this fashion until we reach a station at the base of a mountain, where by and by I learned that one of the engines overheated and we were to enjoy the scenery for the next two to three hours.  Sure enough the train was back in action in a  few hours, and we eventually made it to the cultural wonder that is Chiang Mai.     I had only planned to stay in Chiang Mai for one full day, as I wanted to cover some ground in Thailand, but that plan was quickly altered as soon as I got my bearings the next day. With a population of nearly two million, I am not usually drawn to larger cities, but Chiang Mai had a different feel to it.  A crossroads of sorts,  you find influences from neighboring Myanmar and the surrounding hill tribe villages throughout the town.  Not only that, it is relatively easy to traverse by foot.  What i really looked forward to was the chance to join in on a trek to the surrounding wilderness.   I spent the first day basically just walking around and scoping out my prospects for a trek the next day.  I walked the perimeter of the old city and picked up a few souvenirs along the river.  As I was cruising around, I ended up meeting Thai fellow working in Melbourne and back in Chiang Mai with his wife to visit his family.  Quite a fellow, as he was a three time Thai kickboxing champion in the 90s, with victory rings and battle wounds to prove it.  We got along quite well, and he offered to take me around and show me some more of the sites. I enjoyed some of the local libations that evening, then retired, as I new the next day would be a long, albeit exciting one.   After pleasant day in the city, my next was to be spent in the jungle.  I arranged a trek where I would ride elephants, hike past hill tribe villages to an impressive waterfall, and spend the afternoon white water and bamboo rafting.  You are going to have to take my word that it was one of the highlights of this trip because...I forgot my camera.  Probably the worst day for this to happen, but such is life.  On the bright side, I have a vivid memory and a Swiss family on the trek took copious fotos and said they would email me some when they returned.   The next day, I worked my way down to Phitsanulok. While not entirely remarkable, it was a good experience as I got a chance to see another aspect of Thailand.  I was however, a bit under the weather due to the previous days activity and sun, and what i suspect to be a bad red curry.  I did not get to see as much of the town as I had hoped, but i did recover from my poor condition and prepared fro my return to Bangkok.   I arrived back in the capitol around mid day, and settled my departure plans for Singapore.  While walking from the train station, though, I heard a frightful crash, only to see a fellow down under his moto.  I was first to the scene and was able to get him from under his bike and walk him to safely.  He just turned out to be a bit scraped and shook up, and the police were soon to arrive.  As I departed, i was greeted by a barrage of high fives and extended thumbs.  It is always good to leave a country on a high note.   Well, enough for today.  Off to Singapore!  
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