Chiang Mai

Trip Start Sep 23, 2005
Trip End Jul 31, 2006

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Friday, December 9, 2005

As I sit down here to write about our past 3 weeks in Thailand, I'm hoping that it will all be coherent - we've just got off a 12-hour night bus ride from Chaing Mai back to Bangkok. And since we are not able to book into any of the guest houses until 11:30am, I'm going on only a few hours of interrupted bus sleep. But anyway, here it goes!

We arrived into Bangkok 3 weeks ago around 2am and took a bus to the Koh San Road. This place is insane. It's pretty much a hub for travellers travelling in/out/through Bangkok. You can do/get/eat anything here for 'cheap cheap' as the Thai's say. It took us all of 2 minutes to get used to the cheap way of life here. Back to eating quality Thai meals, going and doing anything we want without constant attention to 'budget' is a sweet feeling! With meals costing $2, and lodging around $5, Jay and I are two happy travellers. Anyway, lights flashing, people partying, food/clothing/massage grabbing vendors, etc. Don't know how we did it looking back now, but we somehow spent 4 days living amongst the craziness before heading down to the serenity of Koh Tao.

Waiting for the 'VIP' bus to Koh Tao, this random motorcycle flies at us, screams 'Koh Tao' 'Koh Tao', 'Get On' 'Get On'..... What? Him, Jay and I, plus our 2 big packs on this tiny little motorcycle on this nutty street full of people??? So we hop on, Jay barely keeps his flips on his feet as we race amongst the drunk people and vendors crowding the street. This motorcycle guy takes us to a mini-bus, the mini-bus, takes us then to another bus --- this one, with the broken TV, lights and spotty AC is our 'VIP' bus. So all is great, however, the bus ended up taking us 4 hours further than we needed to go.... still don't know why...... but anyway, after a short rough-seas 7 hr boat ride.... finally sunny KOH TAO!!! - At least for a day.

This island, located south of Bangkok, within the Gulf of Thailand was perfect. We were able to stay in a sweet little bungalow, our 'resort' was on the beach, had a dive pool, etc. We spent 4 days taking our diving certification with New Heaven Diving which was a great experience. Breathing underwater for the first time was surreal. The only drawback was the rain. For 8 days straight... it just wouldn't let up. Now we have an understanding of what the meaning of 'Monsoon-style' rain is like~ Needless to say, we're excited to go diving further south in clearer waters. Hearing that the rain was plaguing the southwestern coast as well, we decided to adjust our agenda and head north up to Chaing Mai and dry out a little.

Chiang Mai was great - a very cool city with a bunch to do and is surrounded by parks & beautiful Wats. We rented bicycles, and crashed a motorcycle ---- mental note: do not learn how to drive a motorcycle in downtown Chaing Mai. No harm was done, so it's all good - we'll give this a go again down south. Back to bicycles for us! Thai Mardi Gras was in town... interesting/cheesy entertainment, $1.25 massages, cheap food/beer... and then again... more street vendors - oh, those relentless street vendors!

After spending 2 days in Thai cooking class we are coming back to the US with enough new recipes to set any mouth on fire! This was a bunch of fun, plus the school was located in a mellow setting outside of town amongst the founder of the schools' gardens and home.

For the past 3 days we have been on a jungle trek, just outside of Pai (town located NW of Chaing Mai). There was 11 of us from all over the globe and 2 guides. One of the guides was around 13 years old, from the Burmese/Thai village that we spent the first night at. Young, however, he could smoke and drink the local Moonshine like he'd been doing it for decades. The jungle was really beautiful. We trekked through dense bamboo forests, through the most remote tribal hill villages. This is the best experience we've had since being in Thailand. The children danced and sang for us at night and it was great to see that they haven't been affected by the tourism as much as I thought they would have been. As I wrote in my journal in the morning, two little boys practically sat on top of me in awe of how I was writing. On the second day of the trek we did some elephant trekking - these guys can move, when they want to! The second night we stayed with a Karen hill tribe. This tribe had the most elaborate farm that I had ever seen. Growing everything you could imagine, they were completely self-sufficient. Yesterday was the last day of the trek, and included bamboo rafting down the river back to where we would end the trip.

Now, back on The Ko San Road, we will be heading to Cambodia tomorrow, and then back to Thailand to spend the holidays down south in the islands. Good times! Hope you are all doing well - and thanks so much for writing & keeping up with our travels~ Sue & Jay. (Pictures should be posted within 30 min!)
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