We have reached Chiang Khong where we are crossing the border to Laos in the morning. Chiang Mai was great fun and the trek was good laugh.
Day 9: First day of our trekking in Inthanon National Park. Mr Bu (our guide) picked us up and drove us to bamboo rafting - which we weren't expecting, but it was brilliant. Carolina, Danny (our Swedish Ethiopian friends) and ourselves were on 1 raft and the rest of our trekking group were split over the other rafts. Unfortunately we picked the wrong raft - ours barely stayed above water and it didn't help that our guy kept thinking it was really funny to flip the raft over and over! We got absolutely soaking - including our important documents. Everyone else managed to stay standing upright on their rafts! Pug was our captain at the back of the raft - he had a stick of bamboo to help control the raft with the guy at the front - at one point the stick got stuck in the river bed and Pug came off the raft trying to pull it free and had to swim to catch the raft up. Was very funny, especially as none of us noticed until the Belgian couple in our group were shouting "DAVID!"
After lunch (we still weren't dry until the evening though) we started our trek. The first afternoon was hot and like walking up steps so was pretty tough. We stayed in a tribal village (with the Karen tribe) with our group in a rickity little hut. It was absolutely freezing up there! Our group were good fun - we met a couple of English girls, a Swiss-German couple, an American couple, and the crazy Belgian couple.
Day 10: Second day of trekking wasn't too hard. We spent a couple of hours mainly flat walking through the forest to the waterfall where we were spending the second night. After washing in the freezing water in the plunge pool of the waterfall we sat by the fire and attempted to sing songs to Mr Bu's guitar playing! Oh and Pug ate a rats foot (jungle popcorn)!
Day 11: Our last day was all down hill, to the final destination of (another) elephant ride. This was much better than our first encounter - the elephants seemed much happier and had vastly improved surroundings to live in. Carolina and Danny's elephant had the horn and was trying to mount our elephant while we were all on them! Carolina said her life flashed before her eyes and she thought she was going to die by being crushed during elephant sex. It was hilarious - not every day you get to be a part of elephant porn. We then headed back to Chiang Mai for much appreciated hot showers! We did meet up with the group again in the evening for a drink before ourselves, D&C left to see Thai boxing with Teri (our other trekking guide). Thai boxing was brutal but a good laugh - as was the drinking that went with it. We thought we witnessed a near death as one of the younger fighters knocked his opponent out cold. More drinks followed at the hippy THC bar in central Chiang Mai.
Day 12: Met up with Iain from Moradok Hostel (who we met last week) for lunch before he headed back to Bangkok. Then spent the afternoon chilling around Chiang Mai with D&C before they left for Bangkok also! Relaxed evening at the hostel - we were spoilt enough to have a TV in our room!
Day 13: Travelled up to Chiang Khong on a minibus and that's about it! Not much here really, but there seems to be a cool Bob Marley bar near here so might head there for a beer in a minute!
Chiang Mai was brilliant - we'd definitely recommend spending time there! Can't believe our first leg of Thailand is up. We have really enjoyed it so far and look forward to coming back almost as much as we're looking forward to Laos. All the people (with the exception of 'helpful' randoms in main city centres) have been extremely friendly and helpful, the food is great (definitely the land of plenty where that's concerned) and we've met great friends already.
We will write once we get to Luang Prabang in Laos in a couple of days.