For the first time since we arrived, the group were split into twos. Gemma still wasn't feeling well, decided to stay behind at the hotel swimming pool, accompanied by Mischa. Alysha and Coco went to see some temples in Ayutthaya.
They got a tuk-tuk to see Wat Maha That temple and they were mesmerised with what they saw. The fact that people with no education thousands of years ago were able to build magnificent buildings that are still around today. (look at today's architects who build stuff that barely last a lifetime...) The first temple they saw was the most sacred temple but most parts had been burnt in a war and all the heads of the statues were missing. They saw a Buddha's head in the tree, where the roots grew around its head (really weird how that happened...have photo)
The 2nd temple, Wat Ratchaburana was the one that they were able to climb up to look into the temple. They got a bit too scared to go down the tomb because it was dark and looming so instead with the help of flash photography they took a picture instead!!
As some of the temples in Ayutthaya were grouped together, they walked from temple to temple. It was scorching hot and at one point they were sweating so much that when they went to a stall to buy some water, the lady said to them "you need to take a seat!!" But they soldiered on, took a wrong turn but then it led them to a pretty park with lakes, bridges to cross and more statues to take pictures of. It was that park where Alysha heard her first bird call!!It was friggin loud, sound like someone screaming! Alysha turned to Coco saying "what IS that noise?!" (for once, it wasn't Mischa....)
After a while of strolling, the mid day sun was a tad too much for them, so instead of going to the floating market they took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel and joined the girls at the poolside. We already checked out of the hotel but were able to use the pool :)
The local boys returned to the pool and were as happy to see us as we were with them. We played more games with the. (they brought their football into the pool which Mischa almost lost by kicking it a bit too hard...but it gone over the wall later on, this time, the local boys fault....!!) This time they were a bit more confident with us, they told us their names, how old they were (8-12ish we think...!) They tried on our sunglasses, and even our bikini tops when they thought we were not looking! (got photographic evidence..proper cute!) We chilled all afternoon waiting for time to hurry up, so that we could get the overnight train to Chiang Mai! After what seemed like eternity, we showered by the pol, had some dinner at the hotel restaurant again and got a tuk-tuk to the train station.
We got there quite early only to find that our train had been delayed by an hour!!! So we sat with the locals, watching in fear of motorbikes crossing the rail lines, people sleeping and walking over the lines too! Finally at 10.15pm our train had arrived and it was hard climbing up the train with our backpack! We were in car 8, sleeping in a bunk bed in an open cabin, right next to the toilets (which absolutely stank all night!!!) Mischa was tired and went to her bed. Alysha, Coco and Gemma were chatting and then had a 'last fag' in the smoking carriage. The smoking carriage was more like a pub because it had fairy lights and music playing with a makeshift bar! It was so random we couldn't help but laugh! A man wanted us to buy a drink, but we didn't want to drink so he said we only had 5 mins left to stay!! (rude!)
We returned to our cabin and tried to go to sleep but couldn't! The cabin was so exposed and we were worried about our bags (although they were above us, still doesn't have a door to lock it in!) The main light would not go off so it was too bright to sleep and the train was moving so much that it was impossible to sleep. Even walking up the carriage to get to the smoking carriage was like a drunken walk!!
Mischa woke up a bit later and decided she wanted a fag, so we went back to the smoking carriage. But it was closed, trying our luck we walked in anyway but the man literally shooed us away even to the point of pushing Mischa out!! He told us to go to the front so we walked to the front to see if there was another carriage like that, except there wasn't! So we asked a man who was awake near the front where we could smoke, he said "just smoke there!" It was the part where two trains were connected so Alysha and Mischa decided to be brave and started puffing away quickly. Coco and Gemma was scared so they went back to the cabin, only to return few minutes later to have a drag from our fags!! It wasn't till then we realised to door to outside was still open and quickly threw the fag out the door and returned to the cabin safely!
We tried to go to sleep yet again, but whoo epic fail! Gemma still wasn't feeling 100% went out like a light! (the air con didn't help with her throat and we couldn't turn it off, too far!) Coco joined Mischa and Alysha in the upper bunk and got the tired giggles and started being silly! Alysha andMischa kept asking passerbys how to turn off the main light with universal gesture, of crossing arms as in to say 'no/off/wrong'...."how light *point to light* OFF?" or "how air con OFF?" and no-one seemed to know!! Mischa took a liking to the man sleeping next door to us, trying to get his attention but oh, awkward, he got a girlfriend!
Around about half one, we attempted to go to sleep again. For most of us, it was like broken sleep because the train seriously felt like it were coming off the rails, sooo bumpy! (it also was SO cold, too bright....alp OFF! Wouldn't recommend this to anyone but least we've experienced this...)
We woke up on the train to a man serving us breakfast (which we chosen the night before) at 8am. The safest option for breakfast was chocolate cookies and tea (coffee for Gemma) but even that was not worth our 200 baht! We had another little nap before being rudely awoken by a male staff, who stripped our blankets and pillows before waking us up!! Feeling a bit disorientated we finally arrived at Chaing Mai at 11.15am.
We walked along the platform, looking forward to seeing our name on a card for our taxi transfer. Our names had not been seen yet, so we asked the taxi drivers outside if they were our driver or know where we could go. Most of them looked at our yellow hotel sticker and grunted a quick "no" and walked away!! We got a bit miffed and worried but decided waited outside a bit longer.
A German man who had the same sticker as us asked if we knew what was happening, so we felt a bit better already! We weren't the only ones stranded now, so he rung the guesthouse on his mobile and informed us that they were on their way! After a bit a man from our guesthouse came with the paper with our name on, it was not the exact effect we hoped for, but we cheered anyway because all is alright now!!
We shared the big tuk-tuk with the German man and 2 ladies from Poland but there was not enough room in the back for us all so Mischa had to sit in the front with cockroaches for company!
We got to the guesthouse, checked in, then a man talked about our 3 day trek which got us excited again. Then we dumped our bags and went to explore the area for something to eat. After that, we went to one of the temples in Chaing Mai called Wat Pra Singh Voramahavihara. Just before we enetred a woman had a basket of birds that she said when uou release them they bring good luck to you. Alysha and Mischa got one to share and released it near the temple.
We went inside the temple, it was so pretty and tranquil. There were a monk that were giving out blessings so we all went to him and received a white good luck bracelet from him. (double luck for Mischa and Alysha!) We walked more for a while but the area was still quiet so we asked a tuk-tuk driver to take us somewhere more busy. He took us to what looked like china town where there was a market that was selling everything! In this part of town, it was strange seeing some people wearing winter clothes! One boy wore were head to toe in fleece, and there was a woman who wore a fur coat! Tooooooo far!
We went back to the guesthouse for a meeting about the trek and met our guide called Gun. He was going through our itinerary for the next 3 days and what we needed to pack in our rucksack! Well, it's gonna be a mad one for sure! Our itinerary is quite intensive and we are soooooo going to need a good massage after (that is included in the package deal!) apparently it's going to be cold up in the mountain and we realised we left most of our winter clothes with the shop manager in Bangkok! But we'll manage somehow... We're the only girls in the group! There's one group of 3 men from Germany, 2 guys from somewhere we didn't quite catch where, and one hottie who arrived late at the meeting! All the girls immediately looked at Mischa when he walked in.....what!?! ;)
After the meeting, we went to have dinner then to this place to have pancakes. The pancakes were awful - it was a mixture of a salty omelette and pancake (frigging parf'!!!) the cook of the place was quite crazy and was talking to us, and looked disappointed that we didn't finish the pancakes! (not disappointed enough to give us a discount mind you!) then we returned to the guesthouse and had another early night - ready to ride the elephants tomorrow! Yay!
We got up early to have breakfast at the guesthouse and packed our rucksacks with the things that Gun told us to bring. The big tuk-tuk came to our guesthouse and picked us up along with the other groups. In total, there's 13 of us including the two guides (Gun and Pad). We had 3 men from Holland (2 were brothers), 2 men from Canada, a guy from Russia and a German.
We were nervous about the trekking, plus being the only girls in this group, and how would we communicate with the others?
We set off to a police station to do a head count and show our passports before heading up to the mountain. We drove for 20mins out of Chaing Mai, arriving at a little village to buy some things like drinks, mosquitoes repellants, hats etc. then we set off again to an elephant resort in Maewang Maewin. When we arrived, we bought sugar canes for feeding the elephants. There were lots of elephants ready to carry us all, so we were split into twos and were each put on an elephant. Mischa went with Alysha at the front of the queue, while Coco and Gemma were at the back.
We all set off up the mountain, and boy, wasn't it a rocky ride! The elephant would stop occasionally to pull its trunk toward us as if to say "gimme sugar cane!!!" After a while, all the sugar cane had gone and the elephant would still pull its trunk up and the guide would push the trunk away as if to say "no more!" the elephants would grunt/growl and blow its trunk!!! After about half hour ride on the elephants round a part of the mountain, we returned to the resort and had some photos taken. Then we drove up further into the mountain to a 'restaurant' for lunch of egg fried rice. Then we drove a little further into the mountain before stopping at a "cliff".
Here we began our trekking: we walked for about an hour to our first waterfall. It was pretty, we climbed near the rocks for a picture. Mischa was the bravest and climbed into the waterfall for a very cold refreshing 'shower' after relaxing for a short while we carried on walking. The scenery was very pretty, we kept laughing to ourselves that we were actually doing a bloody trek, it still felt surreal! We were all looking for snakes and other things that may bite us!
As we walked, every now and then Gun would stop and show us something. On this occasion he showed us a vine stringy branch thingy that he swung on making Tarzan like noises. The Russian copied him, then another man (the 'hottie') Elijah tried to show off leaning far too back and leapt, he didn't swing very long till the branch snapped and he collapsed on the floor with a massive *thud* we honestly tried not to laugh out loudly, but Alysha looked at Mischa which set her off crying with laughter. Then we looked at Gemma who said "did u hear the fall?" so we ALL were laughing now including Coco. Elijah tried to be macho and stood up brushing himself off, he grazed his arm but made out he was fine and wasn't hurt. We must have looked like horrible laughing cows because everyone else were giving him concerned looks!
We walked some more, passing an ox farm, walking through their poo (nice and natural.....!) We arrived at a village (we actually thought we were staying there only to discover we had more walking to do *fumes*) a young looking girl with 2 children were selling bracelets to us (Alysha and Mischa bought one). We were told she was only 14 and is married to a man of 35 because in that village if you're a girl over 21 unmarried then you'll be rejected for life!
Pad took us into a hut to meet a lady who was 84 who built her hut by herself and still walked up the mountain everyday! Talk about pause for thought! If she could do it then we should stop moaning!
We walked some more before finally arriving at our base camp around 6ish. We were all going to be sharing a hut together, we dumped our bags and changed our shoes. For dinner, we had chicken green curry and vegetables on the side and rice. ( very yummy, even Mischa and Gemma couldn't complain but Alysha and Coco wanted it to be more spicy!)
After dinner, a camp fire was made - it was getting chilly and dark so we got our torches and changed into warmer clothes before returning to the fire.
We played s***head card games at the table with two Dutch men and our tour guides. We kept thinking how weird that we all speak different languages but still managed to play games together! Pad kept trying to make Mischa lose every time and when he managed to do so, he always go to Mischa 'Bye bye!'
Us 4 somehow ended up in the tour guides hut with the owner of the base camp - smoking and drinking! We had some home brewed Thai whiskey (which is apparently illegal!!) strangely, Thai whiskey is much easier to drink then normal whiskey! He kept trying to make us drunk by forcing us to down alot of shots and ignoring our protests to only give us small shots! He kept laughing a high pitched laugh that made Mischa and Alysha want to copy! Pad kept shouting "down it, down it, down it" whenever it's our turn to drink the shot. Gemma retired to bed early because she was tired and still wasn't 100%.
The owner teached us some stick games and magic tricks which we are going to try to remember to get us some free drinks one day! He took a liking to Coco because she was clever and very observant with his tricks and working them out! So whislst Mischa and Alysha were slightly merry with the giggles he taught coco more tricks!
We taught Pad one of our sayings "too far!" and told him to say it to Gemma in the morning when she wakes up. He thought it was a rude word and she would be moody so we had to persuade him that she would find it funny and properly say it back!
After a few more shots, we went to bed around 10pm using our torch because it was sooo dark. We looked up to the sky and it was more than beautiful with all the stars glistening, we were absolutely mesmerised by the stars! Up in the mountains it was FRIGGING freezing, and even with blankets provided it was too cold to sleep!!
Woke up at half 9 to have breakfast (boiled egg and toast) the eggs are seriously yummy here, free range eggs totally rock!!
Yes, Pad did tell Gemma "too far!" to which she looked confused as in WTF and said it back!
We left camp around 11, started walking again but this time the route was a lot more rural! We saw a wild elephant in the bushes, looking a lot more happier than the ones we rode! We walked along this side-path which wasn't even 2 feet in width!
Alysha lost her footing and fell down the side! Thankfully she gripped quickly to the edge, or else she would have plummeted to the rocks down below! She was crying in shock, with a twisted ankle and sprained kneecap, she couldn't climb back up. One of the men had to climb down and push her up back to the path. Alysha was told that she would still have to walk to the next waterfall! Not impressed she kept crying with shock, shaking and scared to walk so Gun took her rucksack and slowly walked in front of her. We finally got to the waterfall about 10mins later, and Alysha broke down again! Only because she realised how lucky she was and everyone kept staring at her which didn't help so Mischa loyally told everyone to bloody go away and give her some space!! After puffing on a few fags, some painkillers from The Russian and Thai ointment she gradually calmed down. She gladly did a spot of sunbathing on the rocks whilst Mischa went into the waterfall (again she was the only one who went in with some other men from the group)
We walked some more to an empty village for lunch, it was minced pork instant noodles but surprisingly yummy!! Mischa helped Gun to prepare the food and laid out the table! Cute!
The Annoying Man (he is called Steffan and is from Germany but we always call him The Annoying Man because by lord, he frigging is!) let out a huge girly scream because he saw a massive spider. Pad picked it up for people to take pictures and to exclaim in horror. The Russian was brave enough to hold it, and asked The Annoying Man to take a picture for him. He was still scared and wouldn't go close, so Coco nudged him closer jokingly. He was not impressed at all, yelled "STUPID" *hand to head at same time* then cursed her in German we presume!! We laughed so much and since then, he kept his distance from us!
We carried on walking (Alysha hobbling with a stick) for another hour to our 2nd base camp, but we got to another waterfall beforehand and this time Mischa persuaded Coco and Gemma to go in with her.
We got to our 2nd base camp around 4ish and then settled down. We had a little explore around camp then Mischa asked one of the ladies (who lives at the base camp) how she made the scarves with her homemade weaving loom. She said it took 8 days to make one scarf!! (Talk about dedication!) Mischa ended up buying one and Coco got us all an ankle bracelet! Then Mischa tried on their traditional outfit and posed with the lady which looked funny!
We went to another hut to watch Gun cook our dinner, he was making minced pork and potato red curry with a vegetable side dish. Coco and Alysha asked him to make it more spicy but he said it would be medium spice because not everyone would handle it! (Grrrr) Alysha saw another man making the village people' food which looked lovely, being marinated with lot of spices. She asked Gun to give Coco and her that instead, but she was informed they don't cook their meat, they eat it raw!
The base camp owner gave Alysha a bottle of what looked like water, and said drink. It was flipping Thai whiskey again! So we all had a few more shots before dinner....not that we minded that much ;-)
After dinner, we played a Cup game with the group, and whoever loses get to have soot from the pan rubbed onto their faces. Poor Coco got Pad who was more than happy to rub her whole face with soot! (She looked like a golly wolly from the Enid Blyton books!! )
We had another camp fire, since it was one of the Dutch's boys birthday ( Markus, one of the brothers) he bought us all a beer and then a bottle of different Thai whiskey/rum was being passed around. We played a tissue/cup/penny game which the loser had to drink the mixed up alcohol in another cup. We had a good laugh and got to know the group more.
We decided to get a bit more tipsy to warm us up and hopefully to sleep well! Well....it didn't work!! Still too cold to sleep and worst for Alysha as her knee and ankle was throbbing! Before going to bed, Gun and Pad informed us that they were going to the temple in the middle of the jungle 20mins away, pray for an hour then walk back! Too far! It was SO dark so we lent them Coco's head torch. (we dread to think how they'd manage without Coco's torch....!?!?)
We woke up at 9am and had the same breakfast but with scrambled egg this time. Alysha's leg had swollen up again during the night and was too painful to walk on. So Gun organised one of the local boys to give her a motorbike lift to the next village for 100bahts where the others would meet her up for lunch. Alysha was a bit scared with never being on a motorbike before, let alone going on one with no helmet into a jungle! Off she sped, the group carried on walking for about an hour to another waterfall with a cafe by the side. We rested for a bit then started walking again. After about an hour, we got to a village where they were selling lot of souvenirs. Coco and Mischa paid 15bahts to do some crossbow shooting with 3 arrows. Then we got onto a big tuk-tuk to the restaurant where Alysha was.
We were together again for lunch which consisted of Pad Thai. After lunch, we walked for about 10mins to the river for bamboo rafting.
We got on the bamboo raft, wanting to stand up but the man told us to sit down. (the water was freezing cold!!!) We were on it for about 45 mins, floating with the current. Coco and Mischa had a go at steering with a massive rod (they both almost crashed into the rocks) in their defence, it was harder than it looked!
We saw a water snake on the rocks, a group of elephants walking by the side. We went down some slopes where we all had to hold onto each other for safety! (a bit like water rafting!) After the 'ride',we bought a photo that was taken during!
We then returned to the tuk-tuk to drive us all back to the hotel. We honestly had the best shower of our lives, we felt clean again! We all dressed up and walked to the party street of Chaing Mai. After dinner of MacDonalds, we had a mini pub crawl, downing shots that were far too big!! We met an american man (from NYC) and woman (from New Orleans) the man told us that just few moments ago, a deaf couple were there (which we later found out were Helen and Nick) Mischa being silly, pretended to be american too and told the woman that she was from America too, but Alysha said India at the same time (when we went to a temple, Alysha signed each of our name and that Mischa was from India) So she backtracked and said she was from Indiana! The woman was like "aww, cool, whereabouts?" Mischa just replied, oh somewhere in the east and we all ran away. But extra, the woman chased us and said "why did you run away? Anyway, here's my contact details!" too far! After celebrating for completing the trek, we got a tuk-tuk back home and slept like a baby in a proper bed! Yay!
Alysha woke up feeling unwell but luckily, today was a 'rest' day. We got a tuk-tuk to Anusarnsunthorn school for the deaf after having been told that it was a friendly school, and they wouldn't mind us visiting for the day. Well, it was the opposite - it felt awkward with the staff who were not really that helpful. None of the staff were deaf/or could sign but nevertheless, they led us to the dining hall where the kids were having lunch and left us there! We didn't know what to do, so we talked to some of the kids there. They seemed to be fascinated by us, but they were very polite too, offering us lunch! Cute! We wanted to see their classrooms and how they were taught, but it was an hour till they returned to study so we left after chatting to some different groups.
We got a tuk tuk to another hotel and paid to use their swimming pool. Alysha, still feeling dodgy, slept in the shade all afternoon. The rest of the girls swam in the pool (refreshing cold) and sunbathed too.
We walked back to our hotel where we dropped Alysha off to go to sleep, then we got dressed and went out again. We ate at an English restaurant where they were serving roast dinners, cottage pies, chilli con carne, spaghetti bol etc. Then we walked to a bar, recommended by Helen and Nick called Top North hotel. It was an old fashioned Chinese cart, made into a bar! It was really cool, had few cocktails there and some photos. Then went to another bar where we had a bucket of parf cocktail! After feeling tipsy, we returned to the hotel, and Alysha was feeling better by then!
We stayed up for a bit, chatting and giggling. We decided to go downstairs to the reception area to use the wifi and there we met two lovely Australians, Alex and Sarah. They were two friends from Sydney and were travelling for 3 weeks. They were out drinking too and just been to the market. Sarah bought ALOT from the market (well jeal) and was showing us what she bought. We got on really well and was glad to learn that they'll be with us tomorrow on the trip to the white temple and Golden Triangle.