Up North continued...cooking and a Trek

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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On Wednesday i decided to book myself on to a Thai cookery course with 'Pad Thai Cookery School'....(700B), they first took us to a market where we were shown what the local vegetables look/smell like and the different curry powders that make Yellow/Green/Red curry etc.  Then on a truck for what seemed like miles and miles outisde of Chiang Mai....lots of hobs and woks ready for us to cook with....spent the day cooking and eating stir fried chicken with rice, papaya salad (useful to know as we ate a lot of that at the GVI house), BBQ beef salad, making curry paste, panang curry with chicken and fried morning glory (massive flames when we stir fried this) and then finally Sticky Rice with Mango...apparently to make it sticky they have to boil it for 6 hours...was sooo full by the end of the day!  We got a cookery book and certificate and then dropped back to Lanna's at about 5pm.  Went out to the night bazaar where I barterd in Thai for a watch, which i think the guy appreciated so I got him down in price quite a bit.  Then bumped in to Alex from GVI as I was walking back to Lanna's, random!

Next day on a trek in the local mountains for 3 days....10 of us, 2 american girls, 2 australian guys, a dutch couple, 2 spanish girls, and italian lady (66!) and me..started off by riding on the back of 5 elephants, quite exciting, we had to feed it bannas as it took us up the hill.  Then we walked, only for about hour and a half on the first day, up hill though so was not the easiest.  Up to a hill tribe 'The ?'  they seemed well prepared for us with a big wooden hut and matresses in it...ate food and then watched the tribe children sing to us...all felt a bit false as they had put there traditional clothing on for us especially i think.  Then the hill people tried to get us to have massages (really didn't feel like it after sweaty and smelly from walking!) and we played games with 2 deaf and mute boys...quite hard trying to understand what they were explaining to us but we picked it up in the end.  Day 2 we woke to a whole array of noisy farm animals including a very loud cockrel and pigs etc...again walking up a steep hill, but great views over the valley and mountain range, then down the hill, i slipped over numerous times...down to another little village for lunch and then half an hour more to spot where we would stay the night...a big waterfall.  We all went swimming under it but freezing and the force of the water from the waterfall was very strong.  i actually washed my hair in the waterfall, felt like i was in a timotee advert!  Sat round a fire, on the rocks next to the river/waterfall...then to bed.  Very cold night, i used 4 blankets but still cold.  Day 3 we walked along the river for about 2 hours, crossing it a number of times, balancing on rocks and bamboo sticks, i don't know how i didn't fall in!  Found another waterfall so took a break there and then on down to where we would start our white water rafting.  Not too hard a course got very wet though, excellent way to travel as could really look at the scenery.  And then finally on to a bamboo raft...5 of us plus guy with a pole standing on this raft...it seemed to be sinking though and the the Thai driver thought it would be funny to tip it up about every minute so i again fell in about 5 times.  Finally finished bought a photo and then truck back to the city.

All us trekkers met at 7pm after showering (i had a cold dribble of a shower) and walked down to see the festival of lanterns, celebrated across Thailand to mark the end of the rainy season.  Watched the parade with lots of doll like Thai women sitting and waving from floats and then watched all the lanterns be lit and set off in to the sky, was a beautiful sight to see the sky full with them.  on the river you could buy little flower arrangements where you had to put a bit of nail, hair and one baht in to it and let it go on to the river to get rid of all the bad spirits etc.  Then we went and had a drink at a very cool Roof top bar, where we could see the stars and sky.... met 2 english people, which was nice as i haven't met any for english for almost a week.  Now having a final day in Chian mai, relaxing before making my next move.

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I left Bangkok on Monday evening after being toured around by my friendly Thai (the guy i met the day before).  We met at the Wat Rakhang Khositaram (had to cross the river by boat for 3 Baht) - while waiting for him to turn up i walked up to the top of the Wat, covered in porcelain design, extremely steep steps to the highest level and lots of chimney like pots all over the top....again good views of the river and the city.  Met my Thai friend and we got the boat back across and walked to the Wat Pho which i loved! First we looked at the 3 massive Praangs (maybe that's what they are?) built to celebrate the memory of the first 3 kings of Thailand, and then into the Wat with the massive reclining Buddha - wow! Impressed by that, lots of Italians taking photos though, which was annoying! At the back of the reclining Buddha there was a line of brass pots where you could put money to bring good luck i guess...My Thai friend couldn't come in, so we walked a few blocks to 2 more temples, both with zero tourists in which was lovely, the first was grey maybe marble, called ?, very different from the other sparkling temples i've seen but equally impressive and then on to ? which is frequented by the Thai King and Queen and absolutely beautiful, covered in elaborate tiles.  I then said bye to my friend, getting a Tuk Tuk back to Ko Sahn Rohe, where i ate a subway sandwich and prepared for my long night coach.

Found out that the coaches you book from the travel agents are not government regulated and thus not allowed, that explained why we had to walk 10 mins to be picked up at the side of a busy road.  I was expecting a VIP coach with 75% reclining seats, unfortunately it was a very manky old coach, the toilet was somewhere downstairs but with no light you could only smell it....5 hours in to the journey we got off the bus for a stop, to the toilets at this odd roadside stop...swarming with insects, all over the walls, floor and in the toilet basin, the food they had on sale was hilarious, pickeld eggs (i think) and pigs trotters...mmmm. Then back on the coach and they suddenly turned all the lights out so pitch black, so tried to sleep with my head on all my valuables...Arrived in Chiang Mai at 6am, dropped off at a petrol station on the outskirts, again because it wasnot a legal coach we couldn't go in the centre...then a little truck to Lanna House..where we had the hard sell from Julie (a man) the owner to stay there, do here treks etc...so tired i just accepted a room, couldn't complain when only 150B!

Spent the day lying on my bed trying to sleep and walking round Chian Mai, initially disapointed with the place, as i thought it would be a quiet, cool, beautiful village, not another very busy polluted hot city, which it is.  But definitely more civilised and calmer than Bangkok.  Walked for a long way, getting caught up in another China Town and flower market...visited a few temples including Wat Bupparam, (including 3 Buddhas, one celebrating the current king, the previous king, and then the other just Buddhism) and Wat Phan Tao 'Pundtow', a large temple that is made from Teak wood so a rich red colour, inside a large gold buddha and lots of hanging decorations.  Walked on to see the Three Kings Monument, not that impressive just a statue of 3 men and then went inside the Museum to pick up some history and cool down.  Back to guest house and then ate dinner at at Lonely Planet recommended restaurant Aroon (rai)...looked a bit like a warehouse but had the typical Northern dish here 'Khao Sawy', which was very tasty.

Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes