Hello from Koh Samui!
Wea rrived yesterday evening after an entire day of travelling (7 till 7) which would probably have been a better experience if we hadn't got to bed an hour before we had to get up!
Chang Mai was brilliant, we all really loved it there and wich we could have stayed longer. The rest of our first day we did a mini tour which took us too lots of thai craft making factories and outlets , umbrella making and painting, gem stores, silk weaving, objects d'art (?) and a lacquering place. they were all quite interesting and we picked up some things then we went to the temple in chang mai which was up a thousand steps (!). It was a really pretty place actually, i tihnk my favourite temple we;ve been too. Then the next day we started a trekking tour, was an amazing experience - so glad we did it. After getting up for about 9 a hi-lux (van type thing) took us and some australian guys to a liitlle market to get supplies and then to a mountain temple (big gold buddahs - etc!!) before taking us up the mountain of the national park near chang mai to start our trek. There were 15 of us on the tour, ozzies, us, some swedish people and 2 georgian guys. First we walked to a waterfall were we had a swim, it was so idyllic but so powerful, getting under the fall itself was literally impossible cos of the currents. then we wstarted out trek, it wasnt that hard core as only 3and a half and 2 and a half hours of actual walking each day but that was enough, ESPECIALLY the uphill bits which when we came to one nearly killed me, laura and edith! surprisingly we were quite often at the back! the track was well worn altho some precarious bridge crossing and tightrope walking, spent a lot of the time looking at the ground rather than the scenery! We got to a little hill tribe which is where we spent our first night, so surreal sleeping in the middle of nowhere in a rickety wooden shack on stilts. All the guides cooked THE BEST MEAL EVER! chicken and potatoe curry and veg stirfry, maybe we were all starving but it was really nice! After that everyone just chilled around the campfire drink changs (beer) and moonshine (pretty lethal) whilst our guides (Bo and Jack) kept everyone entertained with their guitars (must have heard wonderwall a hundred times in the space of a few hours!) and not very funny jokes in broken english about the gekko, the frog and the monkey! They are two of the craziest people I think Ive ever met, and probably were from a 'mental hospital' as they kept saying. All of the group were really nice and all the thai people we;ve met are soooo friendly except for the tuk tuk drivers and those doing a hard sell but even then they are smiley and nice. The next day we had some brekkie and started out on a trek again altho this day it was mostly downhill so not so bad (altho it does hurt your knees after a while - by the end of it our legs were quivering and muscles which had never been used before or at least for a very long time were aching!) This day of the tour included bamboo rafting for about an hour down a river which involved getting pretty wet especially when you start a war with another raft!) and later on in the day elephant trekking. I really loved the elephants, such amazing animals. Laura and I seemed to have quite a rebellious one as it liked to stop abruptly and turn around every so often and trumpet altho we think it was the drivers fault as he kept teasing the elephant with food and catapualting things at him! The seats werent that comfortable though and its quite a bumpy ride which explains the big bruise on my back! We went to another waterfall and walked through a few more hill tribes which are reallty interesting to see how different these peoples lives are and then got taken back to our hostel (the 'family guest house'). WE then met up with some of the tour group later on for food in a place one of the tour guides jack works. Gave in and all had pizzas (rice starts to become a bit boring after a while)! It was te night before an election in thaialdnd so it was illegal to serve alcohol but we managed to sneak some drinks and 'buckets' (coke, whisky and red bull ina bucket). because of the elction there wasnt anywhere open later so a load of us headed to one of the guides friends tattoo parlour to carry on the evening. Was really good fun chatting to all the different people their and dacing in the road but it did mean that we only mamnaged one hour of sleep before having to get picked up at 7 for our flight to bangkok - as you can imagine we were a bit tired by this point especially after all the walking. Got there just in time for the first flight, not the biggest of planes but it was oinly about an hour and a half flight time. We then got a connecting flight to surat thani in southern thailand but had a bit of a wait for that one so some of us managed to get some sleep. when we got to surat we got bus to the pier (the most uncomfortable journey ever, hot, bumpy and so thirsty without any water!). then we got the next ferry across to koh samui but by this poiunt it had started tip[ping it down and was so cloudy as was the ferry crossing. All sat in our waterproofs on the deck with our bags for what seemed like ages and got to koh samui at about half 6 and took a taxi to chaweng area. We found some nice accomodation - the 'lucky mother bugalows' just a few meters from the beach, a bit more expensive (abnout 6 pounds) but everything here is. Its a nice wooden littel hut, clean enough - has its own shower and a tv and fridge which the otheres didnt and still has air con so not too hot at night. Its very like magaluf in chaweng iwth tourists everywhere whihc isnt exactly what we all want from thai beaches but we knew it would be like that here as its the biggest area but we at least knew we would find somewhere to stay so going to hunt down some more secluded tourist-free places soon (saying that, we were all glad fro the burger king last night!) . we will be going to koh tao which is like that after koh phangnan, cant wait for that, just want to lie on an empty beach and relax, hopefull ywith no people selling you ice creams, sarongs, jewellery, etcc...
Spent today just sun bathing and walking around (thankfuly the rain we arrived to stopped and today has been scorching). think we will go to a different beach tomorrow but havent planned that yet. i wish we could stay in each place longer but we want to see as much as we can. at least we know where we can come back to on holiday in a few years! right thats me done. will write again soon (apologies for the bad typing, the somputers ares o slow I cant be bothered to back through everything and correct it!) xxxxxxxx