Jungle Flight

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Friday, August 19, 2011

09:14 Chiang Mai is a nice little town. The old city is marked out by a square wall, well the wall is no longer there but the moat remains and down each side of the moat is a 2 or 3 lane road that takes the traffic round the city, rather like Manchester's ring road, except that a moat separates the direction of traffic rather than a traffic island. At what were the main city gates, remnants of the old gate Walls stand there still, all with a bronze name plaque telling you which gate they are. Trucks roam around these roads, a majority are red, but they are also yellow or green or white, they are Sawngthaew - they have a roof and 2 benches in the back that run down the sides for passengers. You hail them in the street by holding your arm out and telling the driver where you want to go and he takes you, but he'll pick up and drop people off on the way, so a cross between a bus and a taxi, short trips within the city cost as little as 40p, my trips out to wat umong were 2 per way as it was a few km outside the city. There are also little tuk tuks available but these seem to be more expensive, however they have an easier time of getting down the smaller back alleys. I quite miss motorbike taxis, they haven't been available since Cambodia, and were cheap and quick.

There is a real mix of old and new here, or maybe I mean traditional or western. For example, the markets are the same as in the past 3 countries- huge halls with fruit and veg, live fish ready to chosen then killed and chopped up, fresh and dried meat, often with a lady waving a plastic bag on a stick over them to keep flies away, the guesthouse I'm staying at is down a slim alley with Sompet Market at one end, in the north east corner of the old city, so every time I go anywhere I walk past the bustling market, at certain times in the morning or afternoon you find 3 or 4 groups of tourists, all on a cooking course being told about the veg and meat. As one who has been on several cooking courses, I'm a bit of a pro at this now! You also walk past little stalls selling fried banana or spring rolls. Little restaurants advertising pad Thai, curries etc, all basic little areas with wooden stools and tables, covered with a plastic chequered table cloth with pots of fresh or dried chilies, and a basket of spoons and forks that are so flimsy you don't need uri gellar to bend them, just a tough bit of food and pressing down harder than usual.
So you see there is still the same Asia I have seen over the past few months, where you don't want to closely examine anything too much else you'd never eat anywhere (yet still I haven't been ill), but despite this there is also 7-11 stores, Starbucks, mcdonalds, boots, tescos and any number of western influences which makes Thailand an easy country for us westerners to visit, you can be involved in the culture as much or as little as you like. In many ways I'm sure people think ''ooh, look at that, she's come all this way to Asia and is eating pasta/mcdonalds/pizza" when they see me occasionally eating a western meal. My thoughts are only that I'm having a day off, or that, well, I was raised on this variety of food. I like it. I still eat curries and noodles and rice, every day I eat local food, but there is plenty I miss and if can grab a taste every now and then it's actually very comforting and homely. So it's interesting and comforting to be in the east, but still be able to hold onto the outstretched hand of the west occasionally. I still haven't seen a Crunchie in months and at the first sight of one of those I'll be grabbing it, even if it's in the hands of a small child, where I'll just take a bite! eh mum? (in joke with mum there, but honestly I reeeeally like crunchies!...can I have a selection box or Christmas? No, can I just have crunchies and salt and vinegar crisps for Christmas? talking of christmas, I'll be poor and unemployed so I hope my humble gifts will not be spurned, I'll have spent hours agonising over choosing them. I've got shop mentality now, quick it's august, let's get the Xmas decorations up in the shop and play awful Xmas pop music to encourage people to start buying. This must be the biggest digression in a while.)

The journey to Jungle Flight, http://www.jungle-flight.com/ took us out of the city to 'the jungle' or forest. I'm talking real trees here, none of your jungle gym for toddlers filled with ball pools and slides and soft mats so often found in a warehouse in town where adults aren't allowed (apart from one near Holme in Cumbria where I've been with my godsons (I'm taking on both Helena, they're just both gorgeous!) where adults can go and play in the massive playpen as well!! So much fun!). I've been away from the countryside long enough to have forgotten that real Asia still exists here in Thailand, as we drove past paddy fields, land slides, banana trees (which I recently learned will produce banana just once then never again so have to be cut down an replanted), thin meandering roads, thick ivy covering everything etc.
15:06 Had an amazing time, tried not to look down too much either! That was 40 well spent on something I've never done before, it was a little scary at times, but I faced it all and completed it. To be honest once you start you have to carry on!

After several zip lines, abseils and walks all of which caused a little adrenalin to get pumping, we got a free t shirt and a delicious lunch. I'm adding a couple of YouTube videos as well...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ast3mu9VfAI
17:06 Went to some cumputer plazas and the night bazzar and found you can buy sage software here for 150bhat, in fact any software at all! Anyone want software for Xmas?!
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Caroline on

Nice to have you back, Zoe! The jungle flight looks great fun and a good antidote to days of chanting, cold rice and concrete floors.
Caroline xx

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