Our journey up to chiang Mai was pretty comfortable. We each had our own bed with a little curtain so could sleep in peace. In the morning time coming into Chiang Mai we passed lots of beautiful scenery. it was really really nice. We had already made a booking at a guesthouse for our time in Chiang Mai so were picked up from the train station and dropped off at Eagle house. We got our trek booked which would begin the next morning and last 3 days. We were pretty excited. Had a meeting that night with our trek guide to let us know what we would need to take with us. We went out that night to try and find the night market, went in the complete opposite direction to what we should off and got lost! We did find a nice little local food market though and managed to eat for about 30p each!
The next morning we were up bright and early to begin our trek. We were picked up from Eagle house along with the rest of the trekkers. There were 9 of us in total and everyone was really nice. We first of all got taken to the local market. I bought a woolly hat as we had been warned about the cold temperatures at night. I was later extremely glad I had! We went on elephants as the first part of the trek. We then went on to see the bat caves. These caves were really big and really dark too. Once again Lauren's head torch came in useful. Our guide warned as not to touch the sides of the caves as there were some small spiders living on them. Small spiders!!! These spiders were huge!! and whats worse is they were biting spiders. I made sure to go absolutely no where near the things. There were also bats in the cave - hence the name. Lots and lots of bats. You should have heard the noise they made, it was almost deafening! After the caves I was glad for a spot of lunch.
We later began the walking part of the trek. As it was the first day of the trek there was not too much walking involved. We walked through a couple of the hillside tribes villages up to the one where we were to stay the night. The village was really nice. All the houses were bamboo huts and you could see all the local people going about their everyday jobs. Our accommodation for the night was a big wooden hut. We were given a sleeping bag each along with 6 blankets. This was not to be enoguh for me! Dinner was really good and after all the treking we were all starving. Afterwards we were all sitting round the campfire learning about the Karen Hilltribe's way off life. It really was fascinating. They all prefer life in the village way more than city life. In the village they never have to worry about money. They are pretty much self sufficient. If they are hungry they go out take a walk round the village and will be offered food by all their friends and neighbours. Also it only takes them a week to build a house because all the neighbours will join in and help. They always marry someone from a different village as this way the family can make even more friends! They all seemed so happy and friendly. It was lovely.
After our sit round the campfire we were taken down to a local couples house. We all sat on their floor and they gave us tea. It was so cosy beside the fire and we got to learn even more about their way of life. After this we headed to bed absolutely exhausted. I wrapped myself in all my 6 blankets and sleeping bag and tried to sleep.
Throughout the night I woke up several times with freezing feet. I was glad when it was morning time and I could go out and sit by the fire to warm up again. After a big breakfast and packing up our belongings we were off to do a lot of walking. We walked all day - up hill, downhill, through jungles, mountains, villages, everywhere! It was exhausting. We did see some amazing scenery though and it was great to pushed to our limits. We spent the 2nd night in a hut beside the river. This time we were not in any village it was just us in the middle of nowhere. We got a nice dinner cooked for us again then got to help cook stickyrice. This was done by filling bamboo shoots with the stickyrice and adding a couple of teaspoons of coconut milk and sugar. It was then cooked on our fire. When it was ready to eat the bamboo was peeled back and the stickyrice could be broken off. It was delicious. I actually really liked it. That night was pretty cold once again but still managed to get some sleep as I was so exhausted.
We started off the 3rd day off the trek by heading down the river on bamboo rafts. The rafts had been put together for us while we were eating breakfast so were ready for us to jump on afterwards. The one I got on was already submerged underwater when I got on so I wasn't sure if there was much chance of it surviving all the way down the river! When I spotted the rapids ahead I really started to panic! Thankfully we made it all the way down with only a few chunks missing from our raft. I was rather relived to make it off the raft in one piece.
We did a bit more walking then after lunch were taken to a big impressive waterfall. It was then home time. I have never been so glad for a shower! We were absolutely exhausted and felt so dirty. However, after a quick shower we did make it out for a final dinner with all our new trekking friends. The trekking had been great fun and so glad we did it. We saw so much beautiful scenery and learned so much about the hilltribe's culture and way of life. It had certainly been an experience sleeping out in the middle of nowhere in the cold. However the toilets are an experience I'd rather not have to repeat. Going out to a little hut in cold and dark with a headtorch as the only light, and being stared at by big spiders, eugh!
The next day we had ourselves a well earned lazy day. After a long lie and late breakfast we took a short walk round Chaing Mai, generally lazed around and planned a bit more of what we were to do after Chaing Mai. We also booked a Thai cooking class for the following day!
The next morning we got up ready to go and cook. It was funny half of our cooking class had been on the trek with us! Our chef for the day first of all let us choose what we wanted to make. We then took a trip to the local food market and we purchased all our ingredients. I made 5 dishes in total, coconut and chicken soup, a Thai Green Curry, sweet and sour chicken, spring rolls and bananas in coconut milk. They were all delicious and I had so much fun cooking them all. Whats best of all is we all got given a recipe book so I can recreate them all at home again. All in all it was a great day and our chef was hilarious so kept us laughing all day long.
I really like Chaing Mai. It is a very picturesque place with the river running through the middle and lots of pretty streets. We did eventually find the night market and it was really interesting, lots and lots of stalls and lots going on. It was much quieter than the chaos of Bangkok and I loved how peaceful it was. It was also a really nice temperature, nice and sunny during the night but still comfortable. After five days here it was time to move on to somewhere else.