I keep telling myself I'm going to start eating. Hasn't happened yet. Apparently Thais eat around four or five meals a day, instead of the usual three (or one and a half, in my case). All the food here is so good, I want to try everything, and to do so, I'll have to start eating more meals. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at it. The latest non-eating incident occurred a few days ago when I went to Doi Pui National Park to do some hiking. I left around 7:30 to catch the bus to the zoo, where I could catch another bus to the park. I figured there would be food stands at the zoo, since there are food stands absolutely everywhere. I was right, but immediately after getting off the bus, I was shuffled onto another one and was off to the park. Upon arrival at the park, I managed to find a stand selling small chicken legs for 50 cents a piece. I picked up three of them, and called that my meal for the morning.
The walk through the jungle was nice. I didn't see any monkeys, but I made it to some nice waterfalls, and finally got to walk through a bamboo forest, which was pretty cool. Along the way, I came across a tour group of around 50 Thais. It took me 15 minutes to get past all of them, as the trail was narrow, and I had to do it one at a time. Once they were behind me, I had the whole place to myself, which is amazing considering the park's proximity to Chiang Mai.
I don't know how it happens, but I have this terrible habit of walking for about an hour or two, and then somehow ending up 15 miles from where I started. This happened on the walk through the jungle, which was nice, and finally after around 3km, led me to a waterfall that had a road connection back to the main road. I hate walking back the same way I just came, so I figured walking back along the road wouldn't be too bad. I walked for around an hour (the road goes up a mountain by the way), and finally came to a sign that said the temple where I started the hike was 9km away. Not sure how or why this always happens to me, but I ended up walking the 9km, plus the 5 I had already walked from the waterfall, plus the 3 through the jungle. After getting caught in a rainstorm, and getting soaked, I finally caught a bus back down the mountain and got into the city around 3:30. All that on a tiny bit of chicken.
On the bus ride down, I met an older German couple and a younger Polish girl. We talked a bit, and the Polish girl, Anya, mentioned to me that she had just returned from a hill-tribe trek the day before. I had read about them, and wasn't sure if they were something that I'd like or not. Seemed a bit touristy, but I suppose when it comes down to it, I am a tourist after all. Anya told me about hers, and how she had ridden elephants, slept in a hill-tribe village, gone whitewater rafting and bamboo rafting, and hiked through the jungle, all for under $30. I was sold. I went and signed up through the same tour company she had used, and headed off to dinner.
I'm not sure how many of you out there have eaten Indian food, but if you haven't, it's definitely something you need to try. Spokane has a place called the Bombay Palace fairly close to Gonzaga, which has a $5.99 all you can eat lunch buffet every day. It's delicious, and if you haven't tried it, I suggest you do. Anyway, Chiang Mai has quite a few Indian restaurants, and I decided to give Le Spice a try (I know...it doesn't sound Indian, but it was). I can't even remember what I ordered, but after eating my main course and two orders of nan, I could barely move. I had planned on exploring the night market, but after the meal, I had to go back to my room and lie down for the rest of the night. If it wasn't for cable tv I don't know what I would have done.
Ok. On to the exciting part. The truck picked us up at 9:30 to take us out to the jungle, where we would start our trek. There were seven others in my group: Ted, a nice old japanese man; Ken, a japanese student; Emma, Susan, and Aideen, three loud, obnoxious Irish girls; and Saad and Yesmena, brother and sister from Spain. The trek started out with us riding elephants for about an hour through the jungle. Never ridden an elephant before, and it seems really cliche and touristy, but come on, when am I ever going to have a chance to ride an elephant through the jungle? We dismounted (by standing on the elephants' heads and jumping to a raised platform. I also bought some bananas so that I could feed the elephants, and every so often while riding, our elephant would stick his trunk back behind his head and blow air at me until I gave him a banana.
After elephants, we walked for around 3 hours up to the hill-tribe village. I was shocked to find that five of the eight of us had never walked for more than two hours at a time. The Irish girls commented, "I don't think I've even walked around the mall for three hours." The hike really wasn't difficult, and stopping for five minutes every hundred meters made it much easier. Ken and I were way out in front (thanks noon-ball) and spent a considerable amount of time waiting for everyone else to catch up. We eventually made it to the hill-tribe village where we were given an amazing dinner of green curry with rice and some thai noodle dish. Beer and Coke were even available. I'm not even going to try to describe the rest of the evening. It was just too insane. Everyone in the tribe was very nice and welcoming, it was just a very strange setting.
Anyway, the next day, we started hiking again, this time down the mountain and made it to a waterfall where we spent a good while swimming and relaxing. More walking finally brought us to the river where we threw our packs in a truck and jumped in some inflatable rafts and down we went. It was fun, nothing too exciting, but I won't complain. I'm suppposed to meet the Irish girls and Saad and Yesmena at a bar tonight, but I have a feeling I'm not going to make it. From what I can tell, the bars can get pretty crazy around here, and I'm really not here to party. I believe Saad and Yesmena are staying in the same hostel as I am, so perhaps if I see them tonight I might be convinced to join them for a short while.
Before coming to use the internet, I spent $1.50 for a half hour foot/calf massage and another $1.50 for a neck/shoulder massage. I wasn't planning on it, but it started pouring rain just as I was leaving dinner, and rather than walk home in it, I decided to wait it out while getting a massage. The place I went was in a crowded market, and was kind of an open air tent type place. I figured such a public setting would keep me safe from any funny business they might try to pull. Thailand is known for it's funny business. After a nice dinner and relaxing massage, I think I'm gonna head back to the room and get some sleep. I'm planning on renting a motorbike tomorrow ($3.50 for the whole day), and need to figure out a good place to ride to. Of course, I forgot my camera, so I'll post pictures sometime soon. Hope you're all doing well out there.