The main resason for coming to Chiang Mai was that it's a good base for trekking. We decided to add in an extra day so that we could take a cooking course too.
Day 6: We arrive at 7:30 in the morning go straight to our chosen guesthouse, Smile House, pick a suitable room and crash for two hours. We spend the afternoon checking out different trekking options, cooking courses, plane ticket options to get us to our next destination in Cambodia.
Now for some fun. Motor-biking!
Hey we had to get around the city somehow and there are no public busses :) It was manual and we had no clue how to ride one. But, don't worry mom and friends, we DID NOT crash. It was definitely a miracle considering all the other horror stories we heard. We were going 50 times slower than anyone else and always wore our helmets (which screamed WATCH OUT FOREIGNERS!). Because of our "sign" two Thai guys pulled up alongside us, and asked "Where are you from?" Are you kidding me? Are they trying to hit on us? Jane shouts back "WE ARE NOT TALKING WHILE ON THE MOTORBIKE!!!" and they zoomed off.
Me on the bike. We went to get massages at Let's Relax to alleviate the stress of the "death grip" on the motor bike and then the night market from some dinner and shopping.
TREKKING IN DOI INATHON: on elephants, with leeches, through rapids
Day 7-10: A group of 12 of us head off into the mountains led by our guide Doh for a 2 night 3 day hike.
First stop, elephant park.
Our elephant was mischievous and our guide was singing Thai pop music.
I actually got to ride on the elephants neck. It's surprisingly stable, though the skin is tough, spikey, hairy and dirty!
Feeding the elephant bananas after the ride. Jane wanted to me to get a nice peaceful looking picture, but it was hard! That trunk is big and quite nimble (when I was on the elephant my sunglasses flew off my head, and it picked them up off the ground with its trunk and handed it back to me! and also upon command, its trunk sprayed jane and i with water!)
Now for the hiking. After a long ride, we got dumped off on a dirt road and began to hike. River crossings and rice patties abound.
Yes. I survived another river crossing. Jane makes me pose.
One of the unique things about this trek was seeing the local villages and staying in their huts. An infant from a Karen village. We asked for permission to take the pic so as to not steal their souls.
On top of the mountain at the first village we spent the night at.
All of us stayed in one hut. Thank goodness for mosquito nets.
Taking off on day #2 after a good night's rest. ahh, so optimistic before the uphills and the battle of the leeches during the afternoon.
Passing through the local village. This 78 year old was pounding and sorting rice for chickens, pigs and humans. It's hard work, but no work, no eat.
Leech destruction! Once you get them off with tobacco or oil (if you pull them off, the head stays in you!), you bleed and bleed.
Sharing a meal on our second night. The leeches bonded us pretty well. By dinner, we were swapping stories, playing cards, accents and advice. Do you choose outhouse #1 that has the largest spider you've ever seen with scary eyes? or outhouse #2 where the spider is dangling right above the hole in the ground?
Our third day started with....
Bamboo rafting: no easy feat. There were rapids and rocks and trees! Our claim to fame is that our guide lost not one, but two of his steering bamboo sticks, which left us to crash head first into a huge rock! Bamboo is strong. We did not sink.
To the right, you can see the sticks of bamboo which were assembled that morning and tied with some type of plant. hmmm... are we sure about this? Keep smiling... Michaela (before she nosed dived during the rock fiasco), Jane (glad that they added the extra stick on the side so we at least started off floating) and Gary (before a tree nearly whacked him off the raft).
After, our team is happy to survive!
Last stop, Wachiraton Falls. We were actually dodging the downpours, tired and dirty and just wanted to go back and shower!
COOKING mania farmside!
Day 11: OK, enough of being dirty and ghetto in the outdoors. Let's get in the kitchen! Our infactuation with Thai food naturally led to us taking a cooking course. How do they make this yummy stuff?
We cooked on this organic farm. Who could say no to that? We got to wear farmer's hat and taste herbs and vegetables picked right from fields.
Cutting up ingredients for green curry paste. My chopping skillz were below par and morter and pestle-ing was quite the workout. It's not easy!
We liked Chiang Mai as a city. It's much calmer and intimate than Bangkok, but we only spent a day and a few evenings in the actual city. The things we did out of the city were absolutely fabulous!