Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Ruben at Grand Palace, Bangkok
Hi all,
Well it's been absolutely ages since I wrote so I decided I'd give you all an update in the half an hour I have spare. I'm currently in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.
The sleeper train from Surat Thani to Bangkok was a lot of fun. There were ~40 people in a carriage and two layered bunk beds on each side of the train which were surprisingly comfortable. We had dinner in the dinner carriage served by a lady boy which was interesting...lets just say he/she was openly pleasuring an older Thai gentleman while we were trying to eat!
In Bangkok we stayed in a hotel just near Khao San Road which was really nice.
Chung Kai cemetary, Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Many Dutch, Australian and American troops are buried here.
We went straight from the sleeper train to the hotel to drop off our stuff then headed to the Grand Palace. This was an amazing place - everything was gold and they had an impressive Emerald Buddha statue that has its costume changed by the King three times a year for each of the 3 seasons in Thailand. We then walked to Wat Pho to see the 46m long reclining Buddha. This was also COVERED in gold and its feet were embedded with hundreds of mother of pearl. It's impossible to describe it so I'll have to show you all pics instead. We then took a longtail boat around the canals for a bit of a tour of Bangkok and eventually ended up at a teak mansion (after walking for ages) where the king used to live. This was very impressive - like the Thai version of Buckingham Palace.
Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
That night we had our final dinner with everyone and celebrated Shona's birthday and Christmas Eve with lots of drinks. Didn't feel like Christmas at all!
Christmas Day was spent shopping at Chatuwak Weekend Market with Shona. This place was HUGEEEEE! I've never seen anything like it. It was so easy to get lost and you could even think it was nighttime under all the stalls that's how packed in it was. Lots of bargains to be found though, so I had fun!
That evening I had a meeting with the group I was heading to Northern Thailand with. They were a lot older than my first group and there were 2 couples. Most were teachers, and most were Aussie (2 Americans, 1 Canadian, 5 Aussies, 2 Irish, 1 New Zealander + me). I immediately missed my first group who I really felt close to by the end.
That night I bid farewell to Shona who was leaving before the rest of us then Kelly, Poul, Arne, Ruben and I went out to celebrate Christmas together.
The tiger temple outside Kanchanaburi, Thailand
This was really fun. We couldn't find anywhere doing a traditional dinner but it was yummy nonetheless. I wanted a sex on the beach cocktail but the ladyboy waiter told me 'uhhh, you like malibu? I make special cocktail for you miss!' I was like 'okay.....'. It came out and instead of being the traditional red to orange colour it was a blackish purple - he called it 'sex on the street' (!) Typical Bangkok for you! Tasted good though, not much different.
The next morning I set off with my new group to Kanchanaburi, where we stayed on the River Kwai for 2 nights. This was a very eye-opening experience I must say, but a very emotionally exhausting one too. We visited the Bridge over the River Kwai, the Jeath War Museum, Hell Fire Pass, and Chong Kai War Cemetery.
Cubs at the tiger temple outside Kanchanaburi, Thailand
To see the graves of so many young men, barely any over the age of 25, just really got to me. Many were unmarked also, with just
written on them. I was weeping by the end of it. The war displays at the various sites had very graphic displays - videos, photographs, drawings etc of life as a P.O.W. and it was just shocking.
We stayed a couple of nights at Kanchanaburi and ate some bugs while we were there - I ate a fried bamboo worm, one of the American guys ate an ENORMOUS cockroach the size of three 50c coins lined up - ewwww! We also visited Erawan Falls which is inside a STUNNING national park. There are 7 steps up to the top level and at each step there was a beautiful clear pool you could swim in.
The buddha carved into a tree at Ayutthaya, Thailand
It was a good couple of kilometres to the top up some quite steep terrain so we were very glad to have a swim up there! We also visited a Tiger Temple where I got to pat a tiger! This was very cool. They are trained by monks who care for them and we had our picture taken with them and everything.
After Kanchanaburi we caught the bus east to Ayuthaya. We only stayed there for the day and looked at some really pretty temples and swam in a pool before catching a sleeper train to Chiang Mai. This was probably my most fun night yet as it was probably the only night I really felt I gelled with the new group totally. It has been interesting realising how much the people you are with really make the holiday, and I am so grateful to Trent, Ruben, Shona, Arne, Poul, and Kelly for making the two weeks the best of my life!
On our first day in Chiang Mai we visited factories and temples, which was really good.
Doi Suthep Temple. A very special experience
We visited a silver factory, a gem factory, a paper factory and a silk factory, and at each of them we got to see how the goods were made. It was really interesting to see the amount of work that has to go into each piece, and it certainly gives you a greater appreciation for it! I bought a few little things but not much cos it was so expensive. We then got to visit the Doi Suthep Temple, on top of a mountain and 306 steps up. One of the Aussie girls dared me to run up, so, never one to back down from a challenge, I did, but I tell you, my legs were ACHING by the end! It was late by the time we got to the temple so we got to see something very special - the monks doing their evening prayers. This definitely rated as one of the best experiences of the trip so far. We were also blessed by a monk were holy water and had our fortunes done.
Best mates at the entry to one of Thailand's National Parks
Mine said something about someone far far away coming to me across the seas...interesting...that was the 3rd time I'd had my fortune done at a temple. I also encircled my buddha 3 times with oil for good luck - buddha with elephant and monkey, as I'm born on a Wednesday night.
The next day we started our hilltribe trek. This was a very special experience too. We did the Muang Kong trail, and the first day we only hiked for 2 hrs and ended up in the Lisu Hilltribe. There we stayed in communal huts and when darkness fell we got to participate in tribal dancing with the women and children around a huge fire with the village chief leading us in the dance. The next morning we bought some things from a market they had set up then started our next hike. This was MUCH longer and the terrain even more difficult.
The children at this school, part of the Karen hilltribe, learn 6 languages! Here you can see Father/Dad in several languages.
In some places it was almost straight up. We hiked for about 5 hrs and ended up in an elephant camp at lunchtime. There we rode elephants for ~1.5hrs to the Karen hilltribe (the tribe of our trek leader Susin), the largest hilltribe in Thailand. The hilltribes languages are completely different to that of Thai. For example, in Thai hello is sawatdeeka, in Lisu it is Akubomo, and in Karen it is omuchopur - the spelling is probably completely wrong but anyway! In the Karen tribe we visited the school that children from all around attend during the week - they learn karen, lisu, thai and english there, plus other subjects! Amazing. That night it was NYE so we celebrated with Moonshine Whisky (made by the Karen people) that is 40% alcohol (!) and banana leaf cigars around the fire and sang thai and western songs. We counted down the melbourne, manila, and thai NY since we weren't sure we'd make it to the thai NY!
The next morning we got up early (again...and it was FREEZING cold so it was difficult!) and boarded our river raft that we were to take to get out of the jungle. These are made of bamboo logs tied together with strips of bamboo and are about 18m long. Our packs were suspended from an A-frame down one end. Well, the 4hr journey sure was tiring. There were quite a few rapids to go down and at one point (keep in mind we were standing the whole way) I was submerged up to my waist! I was sure we were going to sink but we managed to recover. In the rainy season it only takes 1.5hrs to get out of the jungle as the water level is over 2m higher!
We took songtaews for 2hrs back to Chiang Mai and spent the afternoon relaxing before heading to the night market. We all headed to a German restaurant for some Western food after 3 days of jungle food, and then we shopped till 12:30am before returning to the hotel.
Today this morning I attended a cooking school for half a day with some of the others. This was really good fun but we had to eat everything I cooked - we cooked 5 dishes! - so despite the fact I haven't eaten for 6 hours I am SOOO full! It was delicious though. This afternoon I just wandered around Chiang Mai by myself which was fun. You'll be walking down a little laneway and turn a corner and suddenly there's a temple right in front of you! It really is wonderful. Tomorrow we head to Tha Ton and Chiang Rai (heading towards the Golden Triangle). Tonight we're going to see ladyboy cabaret I think - should be fun!
Love you all and remember to keep in touch - haven't heard from some of you at all!
dreyko777 says:
No problem :)
Posted on: May 13, 2013
Clarafina says:
Thank you very much for the correction! :)
Posted on: May 13, 2013
dreyko777 says:
Akubomo is thank you in Lisu, not Hello

Kor Kwaa is hello in Lisu
Posted on: May 13, 2013
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Ruben at Grand Palace, Bangkok
Ruben at Grand Palace, Bangkok
Chung Kai cemetary, Kanchanaburi, …
Chung Kai cemetary, Kanchanaburi,…
Bridge over the River Kwai, Kancha…
Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanch…
The tiger temple outside Kanchanab…
The tiger temple outside Kanchana…
Cubs at the tiger temple outside K…
Cubs at the tiger temple outside …
The buddha carved into a tree at A…
The buddha carved into a tree at …
Doi Suthep Temple. A very special …
Doi Suthep Temple. A very special…
Best mates at the entry to one of …
Best mates at the entry to one of…
The children at this school, part …
The children at this school, part…
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes