Chiang-a-lang Mai

Trip Start Jul 17, 2012
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Trip End Jun 01, 2013


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Monday, August 13, 2012

ARRIVAL

The train journey actually took three hours longer than we were initially told. However this was an occurrence we were beginning to develop an immunity to, it seemed very few things in Asia ran on time (something Dad would find intolerable, and Mam would love!). Eventually after a breakfast that once again contained pineapple the beds were stripped and packed up and we slowly made our way to the end point.
When we pulled in to the station and the doors were opened the heat was immense. One would think that after travelling for almost a month now that we wouldn't notice this so much....but it still comes as a shock every time. When we disembarked we walked in to a mob of touts waving flyers for hostels, hotels, and offering us lifts. After a night of broken sleep we just wandered through and agreed to be brought to a hostel somewhere. We didn't even ask that many questions, just got in some guys minivan. Three other English girls joined us. The entire way to the hostel they babbled about who they were going to go elephant trekking with etc. Eventually we came to a stop within the walls of what I think one might call a citadel. Out we hopped and while I availed of the ATM others checked in. We were then handed a drink and asked to wait. I was pretty tired and my back was killing me once again. So we wandered through and sat close to the pool. After hanging about for near twenty minutes I sent Andrew off to see what was happening. He returned saying they had one room left at 1,000 baht a night. I said hell no (it's about 20). So we went up the road in search of alternative lodgings (the English girls had viewed a room and promptly left, we didn't even go that far). We walked about five minutes and saw another hostel. Went in to look and I honestly didn't think much of it. So more walking and more looking until we found something that would suffice. And it was pretty nice. So here we decamped, toileted and went in search of some sustenance. To be honest we didn't go too far, we went downstairs. Here we waited for an age, watched a lot of water fall from the sky and then I decided it was all just a little too much for me and decided to go lie down or at least find refuge in some air-con.
It was now that I decided I should probably wash my fantastic fishermans pants I bought in Bangkok. Reading the label it said cool hand-wash, separately. Thank God I did. They're red you see. It looked like I had haemorrhaged in to the sink. A lie down was now well over due, as was a shower. After much lying down and watching drivel on the TV we decided we should probably eat something. So we ventured out to the metropolis that is Chiang Mai town (actually it's very tiny), wandered round for quite sometime until we settled on somewhere. A fair amount of grub and some cocktails later we retired for the night and slept soundly without the rattle of train tracks.

DAY 2

We rose bright and early, well not too early and headed off for breakfast. We decided that the U.N. Irish Bar would be a good choice, and it was. After lingering for a while over the remains of breakfast I decided I wanted to find a particular travel agent to book a tour thingy and was also determined to find the womens prison!!
After walking around in circles and circles for what seemed like forever We happened upon the travel agents but never found the prison. We had a rough idea where to go but didn't find it. Anyway I booked a trip to go trekking, elephant trekking, and bamboo rafting for the next day. After wandering around for another while we returned to the ranch. I really wanted a shower and had to check emails from Lou. One thing I really don't like about our Asia jaunt is the constant feeling of being dirty, sweaty and needing a shower. I feel no matter how long I stayed on this continent it's something I'd never get used to. Eventually the email from Louise confirming her wishes for the Laos trip meant I could go ahead and book it. So I trotted myself off to the travel agents and booked our two day cruise down the Mekong. We would have to cross the border at Chiang Kong in to Laos at Houay Xai. so we were due to leave Thailand on the 17th, the day after Lou got here at 08.00, I already felt that this didn't bode well!!!
I din't really feel the need to do much else today. I generally lazed around, moving when it was time to eat and returning to a similar position when the eating was done Another not too shabby dinner at the Chiang Mai Inn finished the day off well.

DAY 3

Today started outrageously early, as tour days generally do. Up at seven to shower, slather on sun cream, have some breakfast and catch the bus at 8. Repeating to myself, 'you'll only get to do this once', convinced me to fight the urge to get back in to bed and snuggle up. I was envious of Andrew still lying there in a sleepy stupor.
Anyway, onwards and out the door. The day began with herding nine of us in to a minivan from various places around Chiang Mai and off we went. After signing the 'if you die it's not our fault' piece of paper we were told of the itinerary and off we went, all sleepy nine of us.
Our first stop was up windy mountain roads alternated with dirt tracks that brought us to our elephant trekking. When we got there our guide (for anyone who knows Randy, it had to have been his long lost Thai cousin, image!) decided it was too busy and we should go bamboo rafting first and then just return to the elephants. So an express journey down the road we hopped out at what appeared to be a shed loaded with bamboo. The guide told us then to change if we didn't want our clothes getting wet our dirty and not to bring any valuables i.e. camers, phones, expensive sunglasses. He asked us to leave them in the bus. One of the girls decided she didn't want to get wet and stayed behind with all our stuff. While we were getting changed etc, the guys in the sheds containing all the bamboo busied themselves strapping six lengths of bamboo together with strips of leather to make two rafts. Health and safety eat your heart out. So once we were ready and the rafts were made we walked barefoot down the river bank and plonked ourselves on. And so it began an hour of holding on while we sometimes sped, sometimes calmly floated down a lovely yellow river (yes mother, a real yellow river) containing snakes, boulders, and fantastic rapids. At the very beginning we managed to lose someone overboard, however he didn't drown, the water wasn't too deep in that part. He just hopped back on. We made it to the end, only losing that one guy who we regained, and one bamboo oar thing which we also got back. I enjoyed it immensely.
We did finally make it to the elephant trekking where we got on and walked for about an hour. Up hill, down hill, through streams, stopping to chew on lumps of sugar cane and have a wee drink (the elephants), and then make our way back to the start point. The scenery was amazing, the elephant behind me took great joy in squirting the two French people on his back with water from his trunk. I was very glad mine was so well behaved.
We then stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant and had some very lovely stirfried veggies, chicken and mounds of rice. All full we loaded in to the bus again and drove to a waterfall. I couldn't really be bothered changing to swim again so sat and chilled out with a beer for twenty minutes. After this we trekked for about 2.5 hours. We learned all about the growing and cultivation of rice, Learned of the ways of the Karen people, and visited a hill tribe of Karen people. Crossed many rickety bridges made of bamboo, and eventually made our way back to the bus which would return us to Chiang Mai. A great way to spend the day.
I returned back and found Andrew lolling on the bed watching the incredible hulk!!! I had a wonderful shower washing off the days filth and chilled out until dinner. 
Dinner was fantastic, the biggest burrito I have ever seen, washed down with a few passionfruit margaritas. I was enjoying this holiday business.

DAY 4

Today was the day we had decided we were going to the prison for a massage. Andrew had managed to locate it yesterday. After a scrummy breakfast we were on the road. The place wasn't actually too far away. We just neglected to turn a corner the other day when looking for it. In we went and were greeted by three prisoners all offering foot massages. We told them that we actually wanted body massages and were told it was an hour wait. So we waited. In actual fact it wasn't so much an hour, more thirty-five minutes. After which we were shown in to the room where all the beds were and asked to leave our bags in a locker and change. We were given fisherman pants and wrap around top things. They were so comfy. Then our feet were cleaned and oiled up and we were brought to a massage bed each. And so it began. One hour of being cracked, clicked, pummelled, streched, and slapped in to a state of relaxation. It was actually very good. The only thing was during the whole session I wondered what my 'masseur' was in  prison for. Nonetheless she did exactly what it said on the tin and only cost 160 baht. A great way to spend an hour.
Andrew decided he wanted to wander around taking pictures. There was no way I was up for this. I decided an ice- coffee and lump of cake was more of what I wanted. I made my way to the U.N. Irish bar and had a fantastic mound of cake. Chocolate brownie chesecake. It was basically two cakes in one. Yum.
I arrived back to the hotel and found Mr. Teeney skulking around outside our room. We went in and I decided now was probably a good time to pack and sort my stuff out. Louise was going to be here in a few hours. I was expecting an evening of loads of booze, nearly no sleep and a hangover tomorrow. I leisurely packed everything up and showered. It was almost dinner time. So we went out and wandered around trying to decide where to eat. We decide to go nuts and go outside the moat that encircled the wee city. The food wasn't too bad, the music wasn't too good and the booze was sufficient. While waiting for Andrew to finish his beer a guy ftom Aberdeen and his Thai lady friend sat at the table beside us. Conversation started and we told him that we were waiting for a friend to join us, we just had to pick her up at our hotel. Conversation still continued and then two B52's arrived. At this point we were now verging on late to meet Louise. We drank our drink after much persuasion and then got up to leave. The guy obviously didn't understand a word I said as he didn't know what was happening. Andrew again told him and said we'd return with our friend. After a quick scoot down the road we arrived to find Louise had already checked in. She then glided in to the lobby. After much hellos, and hugs we took her back to the bar we had just left. On the way she said she'd only stay out for one and then early bed. For a split second I actually believed her and thought this was going to happen. Deep down though I knew exactly what was in store for us that night.
Many drinks later, many hours later, minus an Andrew we returned to our hotel. It was the glorious hour of 03.30. We had to be up in four and a half hours!!! I predicted a fantastic hangover.  It had been a great evening finished off with our new friend Pauls Thai 'acquaintance' storming off and him having to tear after her. We struggled to get Lou in to her room. Copious amounts of booze, covering all manner of shots, and a dodgy key meant it took us fifteen minutes to open the door.
As I snuggled in to bed beside a partially comatose Andrew I realised morning time was going to be hell.
 

  
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Comments

Molly on

That was great entertainment Shelly - you have a great way with words & I can hear you describing all the events as if you are here with us. Take care.
God Bless. Love ya lots xxxxx

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