23rd - Tha Ton
We caught a local bus out of Chiang Mai up to Thaton (a one-horse town on the riverside). We spent the afternoon relaxing by the river enjoying a meal and some beers.
24th - 25th - Chiang Rai
We left Thaton via long tail boat up the Mae Kok River to Chiang Rai. It was a beautiful ride, the riverside an amazing green mixed between jungle, crops and villages. We stopped at one village, where we were able to meet the locals and to their delight buy some of their handmade scarves (it must of being a pretty big thing as even the village chief came up and thanked us). We spent the afternoon exploring town and found a great bakery with good coffee. We went to the market in the afternoon, before enjoying a romantic anniversary dinner with Greg & Elsie.
The next morning we were all a little slow, due to the beers consumed the night before and 3 of the four of us having a pretty nasty head cold. After enjoying a hearty breakie we headed out to the White Wat. This temple won't be completely finished for another 40-50yrs mainly due to it being designed by an artist who seems be as eccentric as Gaudi. His plans are for the castle to hit the map in a similar category to the Taj Mahal. It is amazing, with a great deal of insight into the world today and it's problems, with one massive mural covering the images of power and destruction including the twin towers, petrol, bombs, money, alcohol and the eyes having the portraits of Osama Bin Laden and George Bush. Unfortunately after the visit to the Wat we had to bid farewell to Greg & Elise, as there time had come to an end. That night we went for a meal before preparing our things for the two days ahead.
26th - 27th - Home-stay with a hill tribe
We headed up past the town of Mae Salong, to the village of Ja Bu Se (only 10km from Burma). On the way we stopped at the U-Long tea plantation and had several glasses of the freshest tea, coffee and Ginseng we will probably ever have. After our visit for tea we meet up with our local guide for our trek into the village. After around 1hr of walking we came into the village, a mass of bamboo huts on stilts and animals everywhere. We met our host family who are from the Lahu tribe. The family then proceeded to make us lunch, which I'm not quite entirely sure what it was. We then took a walk down to a nice waterfall through the plantations of rice and corn. After coming back from the walk our guide left us to our own devices, so we took a walk around the village, we gave some paper and crayons to the teacher of the school, played with the daughter of our host family, assisted a lady in the village crush grain, watched the kids roll bike tyres down the hill, helped teach a baby to walk and played with puppies, piglets and chicks. That night after again eating a whole lot of I'm not sure what, we were treated to a welcoming ceremony by the spiritual leader. We spent the night in the bamboo hut of our host family.
The next morning we woke to the sounds of roosters, kids and the general goings on of the village, and it was only 5am! Shortly after waking up we were treated to breakfast, again it looked similar to the last 2 meals, however this time there was fried egg, which Meeks and I were very happy to see! After spending some time exploring the goings on of the village in the morning it was time to trek out and grab some lunch. After around 2hrs of trekking we ended up at a bamboo hut in the middle of nowhere, it was stunning. Our guide proceeded to cut down a massive bamboo tree and within minutes he had made us bowels, cups, serving dishes, pots and chop sticks. He then showed us that the plants around us were indeed all different sorts of vegetables and herbs. He managed to cook us an amazing feed on a fire, it was very impressive. We then trekked for another couple of hours through the amazing landscape of jungle mixed with crops to the road where we met our car to take us home. We spent the afternoon getting clean and then relaxing over a coffee, before grabbing some dinner and exploring the markets.