Pure Chiang Mai Fun!

Trip Start Jan 30, 2006
Trip End May 11, 2006

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Sunday, April 2, 2006

We've packed up, settled our bill, and are currently relaxing over tea at the Libra Guesthouse. It's a little quieter now, as the trekking group have departed for their "long-neck" village and the cooking class has left for the market with their little straw baskets in hand. Aah... Chiang Mai has proven to be pure fun.

I don't think there was one unexciting day in this town located in Northern Thailand. Although reknowned for its jungle trekking and numerous traditional courses, we were initially interested in meeting up with long-time Montreal friends, Liam and Kirsten, who where luckily finishing their stay in Chiang Mai.

After a delightful mish-mash of typical dishes at an outdoor market and a number of local Chang beers later at a little Reggae bar, we decided to rent motorbikes the next day and explore our surroundings. Zipping through the paved and curvy mountain-road, we almost enjoyed the journey as much as the serene mountaintop temple. The beautiful and intricate temple artistry is set amidst lovely fruit trees and flowers. From there, we made our way to a quiet reservoir where you can (and we did) have a few drinks in a bamboo hut sitting right on the water. After a balletic entrance, I (Phil) was the only one that braved the cool water. The next morning, after a stroke of inspiration, Liam and I raced off in the rising sun to catch a delightful 9 holes of golf before we had to return the bikes.

Chiang Mai provides an excellent jumping off point for its beautiful jungles and traditional hilltop villages. Our short trek (1 night/2 days) offered it all: elephant trekking, waterfall dips, jungle scenery, hilltribe huts and feasts, and bamboo rafting. I could go on but, as is typical with this type of trip, the best part is often the people. We had a splendid "commonwealth" group of 7 led by the flamboyant Rooney, queen of the jungle or sometimes referred to as Miss Thailand. A born entertainer, he kept us laughing and crying throughout the entire trip. We'll miss him.

On our arrival, feeling a little sore, we finally decided to sample the back-bending Thai massage. At first we were a little hesitant but after an hour of being pulled, kneaded, stepped on, and stretched we left completely converted. I even felt a little taller.

With only 2 more days in Thailand, I know that one of the many things we'll miss is the delicious cuisine. Luckily, after our intensive cooking class, we'll be able to duplicate many of our favourite dishes at home. Starting at the local market, we finally managed to answer all those "what's that?" questions. Arriving back at the open-air work area, we pestled and mortared, chopped and wokked, and feasted to our stomach's content. We're still enjoying the leftovers the next day.

Wow, what a week. At least we'll have the next two days on trains and buses to settle before arriving in exciting Cambodia.
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