Trip Start Sep 30, 2013
88Trip End May 31, 2014
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Depart Bangkok 17:20, arrive Chiang Mai 18:30
26 hours of travelling got us from Hanoi to Chiang Mai. It would have been nice to go overland, but it would have taken longer, been much more draining and we would not have got here in time....that is in time to start our 5 day course in Thai massage on Monday.
SO, we left Sapa on a minibus at 4pm for Lao Cai where we spent a couple of hours in a restaurant before catching the overnight sleeper train to Hanoi. The train was OK, except it left us in Hanoi at 4:30 am. We took a taxi to the airport where we spent 6 hours before flying to Bangkok. That was OK too. We had breakfast, an extra cup of coffee (or two) and read books. Then we waited another 5 hours before flying to Chiang Mai, arriving at our hostel about half six in the evening.
We were aware that at the same time Ellie was flying from Florida back to London.
Chiang Mai is in THAILAND!
Here they drive on the left and use the Baht (BHT) of which there are 54 to one pound sterling.
Sitting here in an internet cafe next to a road, it is remarkable that there is no beeping. I simply don't understand why the Vietnamese drive with one hand on the horn and here it is peaceful.
Monday 12th May
The first day of our massage course proved equally as challenging as the Inca trail or cycling Vietnam!
It was full on with one quarter of the time demonstration, and the rest split between practicing massage and being practiced on. It was feeling good to be massaged, even by a fellow novice, but the doing of it takes a lot more effort than you might think.
Anyone needing a good kneading when we get back should drop us a line.
Wednesday 14th May
Just finished day 3 of the massage course. Marian says I am looking very relaxed. I think it must be all these nice young ladies that I am practicing on. (I am the only bloke in our group.)
No photos though (company policy!)
Sunday 18th May
Just returned from a 2 day (1 night) trek in the Mae Tang national park, and it was really excellent. After a slow start traveling though the traffic jams of Chiang Mae's road improvement program we stopped at an orchid farm for 20 minutes. Interesting but not thrilling! Our party consisted of 4 French 20 somethings, another French lady of a similar age to ourselves and a very nice (female, 20s) gynacologoist from Santiago. It was fortunate that she didn`t speak French for otherwise we would have been excluded from most of the conversation. English was the common language and we all got on very well together.
After riding on elephants we visited the nearby Long Neck village. They wre chased out of Burma 25 years ago and the Thai governement encouraged them to settle here and earn money from tourism. The women have long necks and the men look after the elephants.
Following a local lunch we trekked uphill for a couple of hours in considerable heat to a Lahu hill village where we spent the night - 8 of us in one hut under mosquito nets. It was great and the conversation was good. They even had beer for us.
The hill tribes in this area used to be part of the opium producing Golden Triangle, but the government have obliged them to change their ways. They now have piped water and mud tracks to their villages and are able to grow some legal cash crops as well as hosting tourists.
The squat toilets and cold showers were all we needed for a decent stay.
Next day we trekked downhill for an hour and a half to a waterfall on the Mae Tang river where we had a very welcome dip in the cool water. Then we trekked along the river for an hour, but at this point the heavens opened their flood gates and we got drenched. Didn't matter though as were wet already and looking forward to the next equally wet activity - white water rafting.
The rafting was good fun, though tame compared to some we have encountered. After the white water, we had a short trip on a traditional bamboo canoe before finishing off with lunch and a 2 hour journey back to Chiang Mai.
In the evening we all met up again at our hotel and had dinner and several bottles of the local ale and said goodbye with lots of hugs and a few kisses (they are French after all!)
My Review Of The Place I Stayed