Wow we have done a hell of a lot since our last entry! On Tuesday the 24th April, Jamie attended a Thai cookery course - he proclaims to have cooked Pad Thai with chicken, spicy thai soup, green curry and sticky rice with mango for desert! Later that day we drove up the mountains to an amazing temple. After climbing 300 or so steps, Jamie was blessed by a Buddhist monk and we both lit candels in honour of the Lord Buddha (may he rest in peace). Noi, our legendary tour leader was pissed, but we still manage to learn a lot about the temple.
Wenesday morning we got the bus up to Chiang Rai, where we would begin our hilltribe experience. We were driven in a tractor-like vehicle to a small village to stay with a Thai family, where we tasted rice wine with "Mr A", our hilltribe leader. An absolute legend...more later! After a homemae traditional Thai dinner, we were entertained by the local Thai school kids, playing variations of violins and guitars. As you may expect, we couldn't resist having a play so we nicked the 6-string guitar an belted out some English classics...'Back for Good' was a particularly heart rendering rendition.
Thursday 26th April, bright and early, we jumped on our dodgy tractor and rode to the start of our 3-day hilltribe trek.? Accompanied by the mentalist Mr A and Assou our local porter, we plodded through the Thai jungle, encountering waterfalls, big insects, leeches and lizards.? Unfortunately, a large proportion of our concentration lay in attempting to understand Mr A's ridiculously bad Tinglish (Thai + English), mainly choosing to nod and smile, none the wiser about our tour! Jamie took it upon himself to eat bugs for lunch, a gourmet dish recommened by guess who... Mr A. After a challenging days walk, we reached the Lisu tribe village and found our suprisingly nice accomodation. Dan played a challenging and?odd type of football/volleyball with the locals... it definately is true that football is the true global language! Jamie opted for a Thai massage. That evening, there was the first of several incredible thunderstorms - Jamie decided to it in the middle of the terential rain and read, whilst Dan struggled to phone home to speak to his poor mother before her operation!
The next day, we got up early for a walk around the Lisu village, vistiting a children's nursery - the kids were very cute After exploring the strangely Anatevka like village, we set off for our second day of trekking, arriving at the next Anka village nice and early in the boiling heat. This village was an even more realistic Thai version of Anatevka; pigs, chickens, dogs, cats you name it running around the shacks in the village. That evening we were entertained by dancing hilltribe folk in glamourous traditional attire, making horrendous noises with sticks and gongs. Naturally, we felt it absolutely necessary to get a piece of the action, grabbing a gong/cymbals and hitting the dancefloor!
We got up seriously early the next morning after any hope of sleep was quashed by another f*** off storm! We set off for the last day of our 30km trek; we say 30km but 2hours into the day, Will, the posh public school boy decided to take Dan's injury-prone mantle and slip and strain his ankle! This meant carrying him to the nearest house where the Thai owner was persuaded (paid) to give us a lift to the nearest village. Now this was no ordinary journey - mud, slopes, lakes, rivers, bumps, sheer drops were witnessed from our position in the 4x4 truck. Here we were met by the Intrepid bus to take us back to normality and Chaing Rai.
That evening we went to Mr A's brother's bar, who continued the family character traits that by this point had endeared Mr A to our group forever! We watched the footy, staying up to see the highlights of Spurs' victory and Berbatov's wonder volley. Genius.
On Sunday 29th April, we went up to the 'Golden Triangle', the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma. We spent ages at the Burmese immigration desk before we were allowed entry to the country, where we spent a couple of hours looking round a small market. Later, we visited the Opium museum and hench commerative Buddha?and then had a boat ride to Laos, speeding across the river in banana boat fashion. In Laos we sampled whisky soaked in dead snakes, scorpions and just for good measure... tiger's penis! Even bought bottles to bring home for proof! That evening we had dinner at a nice local resteraunt. Dan decided that he would like to accompany the Thai singer/guitarist playing in the restaurant - belting out a great rendition of 'The Young Ones'. Much to the resteraunt owner (and Dan's) delight, Dan was asked to stay and sing with the guitarist for the remainder of the night! With only Noi?(and his group of?Thai waitresses)?left for company, Dan sung numerous classics and then?hopped onto a moped to?go back to the hotel.?The next morning we travelled back to Chiang Mai by bus, later catching the overnight train to Ayunthehaya - a hardcore day of travelling!
We arrived in Ayuthaya at 5.30am on Tuesday morning to the rain that has suddenly swept over Thailand. After a good english breakfast we hopped in a Songthaw and visited the temple ruins which were destroyed by the Burmese ******ers - even Mr A agrees). Later, we travelled to Kanchanaburi which would be our home for the next 3 days. Here we stayed at a place called "Apples" - a guesthouse run by 2 Ladyboys...! On Wednesday we spent the day and night on a raft house - basically a floating house tugged by a little powerboat. Even though the weather wasn't great, this was really fun. We swum in the River Kwai and stopped off at a couple of termples along the way. Seriously starting to know our Buddhist stuff now! The food was good, the beer and bacardi?were excellent and the setting stunning as we slept in the middle of the river. There were, however, more torrential storms to follow, causing us all to get soaked in the middle of the night... all part of the experience we were told!!
Today we woke up (too) early and were tugged back to our starting point on the river. We then went by Songthaw to the War Museum and visited the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai where thousands of Allied POW's died creating the 'death railway' from Thailand to Burma during WWII.? This was really interesting and basically we now know that the Japs weren't great at running POW camps... Afterwards, after Dan had made an emergency dash into the road to catch?his flaying glasses?case,?we headed to an amazing national park/waterfall and despite the torrential rain, we made it up to the very top! It was well worth the trechorous hike up slippy rocks and muddy hillside, as at the top the weather was much brighter, the lagoons were crystal clear and the waterfall spectacular! We had a great little swim and then power-hiked it back to meet our bus. Unfortunately the torrential rain - wet season has come early here - meant we couldn't visit the tiger temple :-(! Tomorrow we head back to Bangkok and towards the end of what has been a great tour.