Our 13hour journey to Chiang Mai began on Sunday 3rd July at 6pm. The train from the outside looked like a huge metal cargo train. We got on and sat at chairs which would eventually turn in to a bed (the second bed is in the ceiling). We set off and were given menus and told to pick set courses, I obviously went for the one that included sweet and sour as I like to live on the wild side.
After a laborious 13 hour train ride with no sleep (as I had to hold on when the train went up hill and from side to side in the middle of the night) we arrived in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is the Thailand I was expecting and it was great! Our transportation to the hotel was a truck with benches in the back, a canvas roof and no windows.
We arrived at the Prince Hotel which was basic but felt very authentic. It has a pool and a jacuzzi, although I can't imagine it ever being the temperature to use it. We had a group meeting and all decided we wanted to go to Tiger Kingdom and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (a temple). After an 'American Breakfast' in the cafe we set off to the Tiger Kingdom.
Annie (My Australian friend) decided to both pay to go in the cage with the small tigers as you could choose from a variety of sizes. All the tigers are tame with the exception of the largest which I think are drugged. Quite a few of us had a moral dilemma when deciding whether to go in however this place would exist without my money and I'd rather make sure they are all well fed and looked after. The grounds were exquisite and all the tigers (although in cages) looked quite healthy. So rather shakily, I stepped in to the cage with the tigers and the keepers signalled for them to get up. We then had different photographs with them and were able to stroke them as long as we followed rules such as no playing with them or encouraging them to fight....
After this we went to the temple on top of the biggest stairs I have ever seen in my life. I felt like rocky and stomped up only to faint at the top.. how embarrassing. The temple was much more peaceful and actually felt like calm and how I expected a Buddhist Monk's home to be. There were also Buddhist Nun's there with shaved heads, I really wanted to join them and shave my head but thought against it... ha ha!
The temple was beautiful and inside I got blessed by one of the Monks and had my fortune read.. it said I had to be more grateful to my beneficiarys (Mum and Dad do not say a word ha ha).
After the temple we went back to the hotel and relaxed by the pool with a Chiang beer.
That night we went to the Night Bazaar which was a lovely market full of loads of tat to fill your suitcases with all costing around a quid. I bought a dress for a fiver, i tried to go lower but turns out i'm rubbish at haggling. Here we went to the food court and I had some delicious prawns.
Chiang Mai to be continued...