Chiang Mai - trekking & cooking - Thailand
Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
125Trip End Sep 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
Chiang Mai Guesthouse Inn
We arrived in Chiang Mai at 5pm with no hostel booked. The couple next to us along the journey called several hostels to see if they had rooms but none of them had any so we started to get a little bit worried. We found out later on there was a festival over the weekend and most hostels were fully booked.
When we arrived in Chiang Mai we decided to ask the lady that was pestering us to use her tuk tuk if she knew of any hostels that were not fully booked up. In the end we used her judgment and took her tuk tuk to the hostel. We managed to get a room for 200 Baht near the old city moat at the hostel she recommended
We spent that evening walking around Chiang Mai and the old city. The old city of Chiang Mai is a square bound by a moat with medieval walls built 700 years ago and has a population of 174,000 people. The hostel we stayed in was called the Chiang Mai Inn which is located only about 2 mins walk from the old city across the moat.
The next morning we walked around the various Wats that are within Chiang Mai in the sweltering heat (about 33C). We visited Wat Phra Singh which is the star of the old city, built in 1345 and houses the city's revered Buddha image, Phra Singh, which is the focal point of religious festivals in April. We also visited Wat Chiang Man and is considered the oldest wat in the city walls which was erected by King Mengrai, Chiang Mai’s founder in 1296. We also visited Wat Chedi Luang which contains ruins of a huge chedi dating back to 1441 which was destroyed in an earthquake.
After lunch we took a tuk tuk to the Chiang Mai University to then get a sawngthaew to Doi Suthep which is 16km to the north of Chiang Mai. There was an epic traffic jam as our trip coincided with the graduation of all the students
That evening we headed for the Sunday Walking Market on the main street through the old city on Th Ratchadamnoen. The whole street was closed for traffic and there were hundreds of stalls and thousands of people. We walked around eating at each of the stalls whilst looking at the crafts and souvenirs that were on sale.
(On the monday) the next day we had a two day trek booked. We got picked up from our hostel and traveled out of Chiang Mai about 35km south-west. We arrived at a small elephant farm where we took a short trip on the back of an elephant through the jungle and along a river. We fed the elephants bananas and bamboo, but later found out that elephants eat up to 350kg per day so this snack wouldn’t have even touched the sides. It was sad seeing them all chained up and walking with the guides but the experience of riding and feeding the elephant was great
We then collected our day bags from the truck and started our trek through the jungle. We walked about 30mins along a stream to a waterfall where we had a rice and vegetable lunch. There were 8 tourists in our group, three Croatians, two Canadians, one Englishman, us and our guide. The guide was excellent and talked about the jungle and how they use it. That afternoon we walked for about 3 hours in the sweltering heat and humidity through the jungle until we reached the village in the mountain some 8km from our starting point up and down the hills.
It was in fact the guide’s village where he showed us around explaining how they farm, eat and live in the mountains. We stayed with the Karen village of Ban Mae, which means new village. The Karen people are the largest hill-tribe in Thailand and live in the lowland valleys practicing crop rotation. Approximately 47% of the hill tribe people are Karen. The term hill tribe refers to ethnic minorities living in mountainous northern and western Thailand. The Thais refer to them as chao khao, literally meaning 'mountain people’. Each tribe has its own language, customs, dress code and spiritual beliefs. Most are migrants moving to Thailand from Tibet, Myanmar, China and Laos during the past 200 years for safety from war zones. The Karen people look slightly different to typical Thais as they are from the state of Karen in Myanmar Burma and moved over 100 years ago. The village is small, with about 110 people living there in 26 families with three other Karen villages on different hill tops not too far away. There is running water and no electricity but was impreved with the views of the valleys below.
That evening, after our meal which was cooked by the village, we sat around the fire listening to the children signing and dancing
The next morning we had breakfast whilst looking at the views of the valley, then continuing our second day trekking down to the river. It was hot again and took about 4 hours of trekking through the jungle until we reached the river. That afternoon we bamboo rafted our way down stream in the cool refreshing water where we were later picked up. The currents weren’t too bad but keeping your balance was difficult.
We arrived back in Chiang Mai for the evening where Marie had a two hour body and face massage as a reward for baring the heat for two days.
(On the wednesday) our last day in Chiang Mai was spent at a Thai cooking school. We were picked up and taken to the local market where we learnt how to buy the right vegetables and fruit
Our next trip is up to Tha Ton early in the morning where we plan to get a slow boat along the Mae Nam Kok to Chiang Rai, where we plan to be for a couple of days and upload photos.
Sukhothai jsme opustili v sobotu rano a vydali jsme se smer Chiang Mai. Cesta autobusem trvala skoro 5 hodin, ale ubehla neuveritelne rychle, jelikoz se celou cestu dalo na co divat. Teren se postupne menil z ryzovych poli na kopce porostle lesy a dzungli. Do Chiang Mai jsme prijeli v sobotu odpoledne bez zamluveneho hostelu, par ktery sedel vedle nas v autobuse se celou cestu snazil dovolat do hostelu, ktery by mel volno, ale neuspesne. My jsme zacli byt trosku nervozni jestli neco sezenem, jelikoz jsme se dozvedeli, ze cely vikend je v Chiang Mai festival a vetsina hostelu je plna
Kdyz jsme dorazili na nadrzi, dali jsme na radu mistni starenky, ktera nas porad otravovala a vzali jsme si tuk tuk do hostelu, ktery doporucila. Vecer jsme stravili prochazkou po Chiang Mai a stareho mesta. Stare mesto je obklopene vodnim prikopem a hradbamy, ketere byly postavene na obranu proti barmskym vojakum.
Druhy den jsme navstivili mistni chramy, ktere jsou rozmisteny v centru mesta, Wat Phra Singh je jeden z nejhezcich chramu a neni divu, ze se nazyva hvezda stareho mesta, Wat Chiang Man je jeden z nejstarsich chramu v Chiang Mai a Wat Chedi Luang je pozustatek chramu, ktery byl znicen zemetresenim v roce 1441. Odpoledne jsme se vydali na jeden z nejnavstevovanejsich chramu Doi Suthep, ktery je vzdaleny od Chiang Mai 16 km a je z nej nadherny vyhled na cele mesto...neni divu, vede k nemu 1000 schodu. Ten samy vecer jsme sli na tradicni nedelni trh, ktery se porada na hlavni tride a veskera doprava je uzavrena. Je tam stovka malych stanku, kde si muzete koupit suvenyry z mistni vesnic a take ochutnat mistni dobroty.
Jednu z takovych vesnic jsme navstivili druhy den, kdyz jsme se vydali na dvou denni vylet, ktery jsme si zaridli pres mistni agenturu
Zitra ve vydame smer Chiang Rai a pote pojedem do Laosu.