February 8th - We both had a bit of a lie in and then just ate and chilled out around the guest house until a tuk tuk took us to the airport at 1.45pm. We arrived really early as we always seem to do, by a mistake, so we sat around until our 4.55pm flight to Bangkok. The flight only took an hour so we got into Bangkok at about 6pm. We then got a taxi to our guest house in Sukhumvit, which is where all the go go bars are but we weren't going there! The guest house was really good and had a great atmosphere so we sat, had some food and chatted to the other guests in the hostel. The room was clean and the shower was hot...our first hot shower for 3 weeks! We watched some football and then went to bed as we had to getv up early the next day.
February 9th - We had booked our taxi from last night to come and get us at 4.15am so we sleepily got up but unfortunately the taxi didn't arrive so we called another than got to the hostel straight away luckily. We then went to the airport for our 6.40am flight which got us to Chang Mai in an hour. We then got a taxi to our guest house 'The Green Tulip'. It is such a good guest house with the rooms at 6 pounds for the two of us, and it is so clean and well set out. We went straight to bed for a couple of hours when we arrived as we were tired and then went for a wander around. It was really quiet as today is Buddah day and a National holiday but we looked arund for some trekking deals and also saw a couple of wats and 'The three kings' monument.
In the evening we went to a great bar/restaurant that was recommended in Lonely Planet, it was the only one that had customers in it and not Thai girls/boys looking for an old western man! After here we went back to our guest house to bed.
February 10th - We got up at about 11am and went to sort out our trekking trip. In the end we got it from our guest house and paid 20 pounds each for 2 days and 1 night which includes accomodation, all food, elephant ride (which we didn't want but it was cheaper with!), bamboo rafting and white water rafting. Sounds great and we go tomorrow. After sorting this out we went to the shopping centre to buy some insect repellant as we know we're going to get eaten, and had some lunch. The shopping centre was good and the food really good as their food is always made fresh in front of you its great.
We then went back to the hostel and on the internet. That night we walked to the night bizarre which is held every night. It was massive! So many stalls selling clothes, jewellry, souvenirs, sunglasses etc. There were also lots of stalls with food, including one selling lots of different fried bugs, we decided not to eat there for our dinner but at a curry stall which was 2 pounds for the both of us and it was excellent. After eating we carried on looking through the stalls and bought ourselves a 2 pound t shirt each and then headed back as we had to get up for our trek tomorrow.
February 11th - We got picked up at 9.30am by our guide in a vehicle which had benches either side. We were the first and then we went to pick up 8 others at different hotels and guest houses around Chang Mai.
Our guide was called Son and he seemed really friendly and excellent at english. We drove for about 20 mins to our first stop an orchid and butterfly farm, we didn't know we were going here and it wasn't very good really but Emma liked the flowers! We also picked up another guide and a couple from here, so our group was complete which consisted of us, 6 Irish, 2 dutch and 2 swiss and all were similar ages. We then went to the market to pick up supplies for our trip and then drove for about 40 minutes to an elephant sanctuary where we first had our lunch of a bowl of rice and then went on an hour ride of an elephant. Ours was a mum and its 2 year old baby was with us all the way, it was very cute, and at one point she stopped to feed him which was wierd as we were on her back.
The ride took us to a river where baby went in and was rolling about and mum was splashing us, but after this the baby was playing up and didn't want to go back so the mum was getting annoyed we think and she blew snot all over us, which was nice! We got off the elephants and then started our 3 hour trek to our tribe hillside village where we would be staying the night. It was a great walk with fantastic views off the hillsides, it was quite a tough as it was all uphill and quite rough terrain but the main thing was that it was so hot. Emma was especially hot and had a beetroot head most the afternoon! When we got to our village it was as if it was in the middle of no where. We walked in and there were about 20 wooden houses, most on stilts, and loads of chickens, pigs and dogs runnning about.
We were all lead to our home for the night which was our own hut with 3 rooms, one for the 12 of us to sleep in, one the kitchen area and the other room was bare. We all had a mat, blanket and pillow with a mosquito net covering it, it looked fantastic and better than what we thought we'd get. Outside there was a hut with a toilet and shower which was surprisingly clean and a sit down toilet! We put our stuff down and then all had a deserved drink from 'the bar' which was a local with his cool box and sat outside admiring the view while the guides cooked inside the kitchen. They called us into the bare room which just had 2 big mats on the floor and they had put down a bowl of rice, and bowl of noodle soup for us all and 4 big dishes of vegetable curry and chicken and potato curry to share in the middle, we loved it, it tasted so good and it was brill us all sat eating in a circle on the floor.
After our food some people from the tribe came and sat with us and Son told us all about the tribe, it was facinating. They normally get married at 13 and start having babies straight away, and most men in the village have married more than once and it is not frowned upon at all. Everyone just lives to survive and they do this by growing rice and vegetables, it is not normal for people who are born in the village to leave and everyone just loves being around their families everyday. We asked lots of questions as it was so unreal and then a local brought out his guitar and all the locals started singing to us in both Thai, Lahoo (which is their local dialect) and the guitar player also knew some english songs which was fab so we all sang along then.
At one point Son showed us their dance to one of their songs, it was very funny as you sort of had to dance side to side with partners. We must've looked hilarious! The man must have played for 3 hours and we all had such good night but we went to bed just after 10 as we had to get up in the morning and we were all tired after our trek. We pulled our mosquito nets over us and tried to sleep but it was very difficult as we felt like we were sleeping in a chicken farm as they were so noisy and we think dogs were sleeping below us too.
February 12th - The cockerells woke us up at 4.45am which we thought was a bit too early for them to be making so much noise! We all tried to get more sleep but it was quite hard as there were so many of them! We got up, showered, packed and had our breakfast at about 8.
30am which was toast, fruit and a vegetable scrambled egg and then set off for an hour trek downhill to a waterfall. It was quite a tough steep climb down and you were jumping over massive tree roots, walking over bamboo bridges and tree trunks. It was fun! We stopped off at a waterfall where some people went in to cool down but we didn't as we didn't want to walk when soaking wet. Then we walked another half hour to where we went white water rafting. We all stripped down to our swim stuff, put on a life vest and hard hat and were then pushed out into a dingy. There were 6 of in each dingy, the Irish V everyone else and each dingy also had a Thai man to help us. The 2 men went to ther front as they were 'the strongest' although the man got very annoyed with them especially the Swiss man calling him a ladyboy as he couldn't oar strong enough! It was very tame white water rafting but we all enjoyed it, especially when we did get some rapids and get stuck so we had to all climb on top of each other to get free.
It was funny. The dingy stopped in a calm bit of river and we then transferred to a bamboo raft where the man told Neil that he was the strongest so had to stand up and be the oarsman while we all sat back and relaxed. Neil wasn't too happy at this and wanted to relax too, but luckily we weren't on the raft for too long, especially as the raft seemed to be sinking and the water was very dirty and full of bugs! After Neil dropping the oar and the man getting annoyed we finished rafting after about 20 minutes and then had our lunch which was pad thai. We then all got back into the van to go back to our guest houses, which took about 1.5 hours. That night we were both really tired after a jam packed 2 days so we just had some quick food then went back to our room to relax and go to sleep.
February 13th - This morning both us couldn't move our legs as we ached so much! You could tell that we hadn't done excercise for a while as we felt like cripples! We got up late and then wandered to get our washing done at a nearby laundrette as we had lots of dirty clothes. Today we had a chilled out relaxing day as our legs hurt! On the night we went to the night bazaar again to look around at the masses of stalls and to have some cheap street food. We both went on our own for a while to get valentines presents for each other and then went to a pub to open them (a bit early but they were hard to hide!), Emma got Neil a Vespa t shirt which he loves and Neil got Emma a Newcastle United football shirt with 'Neil 4 Emma' on the back and she thinks its fantastic! We then got a tuk tuk back to our guest house and went to bed.
February 14th - We checked out at 9am and then waited for our lift to Siam Rice Thai Cookery School as Neil had got a one day course for Emma for valentines. The van picked us up at 9.30am and there was already everyone else in our group in the van which was four others. We firstly drove to the local market where we learnt about different thai ingredients that they use in their cooking and all about the different curry pastes for the curries, which was interesting. We then drove to the school which is the home of the main chef who teaches, and it was in such a nice setting. We each chose 6 different dishes that we wanted to cook and then started cooking straight away with our teacher who was a lady who had been working there a couple of months and she was very good and so friendly.
We were each given a wooden chopping board and massive meat clever that was so sharp it was great. The first dish we made was soup an Emma made Hot and Sour soup with chicken and Neil made Chicken in coconut soup, they both involved lots of bashing and chopping of different spices, we loved the bashing as you had to hit the stuff so hard with the knife! We left these on our table and then both made vegetable spring rolls. It started with making the filling which was just veg, beansprouts, glass noodles, and spices. Neil mixed it together for everyone making the rolls which he was very proud of. Once it had cooled down we rolled the spring rolls and then deep fried them in palm oil, we then all went to our table and ate the soup and rolls which tasted great especially the spring rolls dipped in chilli sauce.
The next course Neil made Papaya salad and Emma made Spicy mixed chicken salad, both were really easy to make you just chucked everything on a plate and mixed it up. Before eating this we made our next course where Emma made Fried holy basil with chicken and Neil Fried cashew nuts with chicken and then we ate these two courses asnd were both starting to feel quite full! Emma's basil dish was really strong so wasn't that nice and Neil seemed to put so many chillis in everything his mouth was burning! After a short break we were each given a bit of carrot and she showed us how to carve a flower and a leaf. She made it look so easy but Neils flower looked more like a mushroom and Emma's leaf was a very strange shape, it was really difficult and you need a delicate hand and patience which we both don't have! Curries were next which we both were looking forward to, Emma made red and Neil green which is the spiciest one.
We made the paste first which involved grounding lots of chillis and other spices in a pestle and mortar which was really strong as our eyes were watering from the spices and then we put the paste in a wok added chicken, some vegetables, fish sauce, sugar, coconut cream and water, it smelt fantastic and quite strong. We put them on our table and then made our dessert which was sweet sticky rice with mango which was just like a rice pudding made with coconut cream and palm sugar. We then ate these 2 dishes which were both really good, especially our curries which were really tasty and really hot too! We were now so stuffed we all just wanted to sleep but we got our lift back to our guest house and chilled out. Unfortunately we didn't have a room to go in to sleep! I am writing this now and tonight we are going our for a few drinks (definitely no food!) before our flight back to Bangkok at 10.