After arriving in Chiang Mai at about 9am we got taken to our guest house where we had a nice shower and a sleep (our feet were so swollen from the awful bus journey!)
We had a wonder around and stumbled on a night market, we found a little wine stall where we sat having a few glasses of home brewed vino and met a lovely couple - an English girl who has lived here for 5 years and her Thai boyfriend, we chatted to them for a few hours and got lots of tips of things to do! We wondered the markets, stopped for some dinner then headed back to the guest house to sleep some more!
Monday (10th) we had a bit of a lie in then headed out to explore some more. We ended up bumping into Ami and Daniel that we met on the floating hostel, so we all wondered together. We had a few beers and had a look around; a local Thai man showed us a few places worth visiting on a map including the factory where all NEXT's clothes are made!! We stopped in a riverside bar for a drink and ended up having dinner and drinks and staying for hours! We have a lot in common with Ami and Daniel - they are the same age and have been together 10 years too! We headed back to our guest houses after making plans for the next day.
Tuesday (11th) we met Ami and Daniel at 8.30 and went to rent scooters for the day. Ami and I would ride on the back of the boys! Daniel had never driven a scooter and it was quite funny to watch him trying it out for the first time and seeing how nervous Ami was! The lady where we rented them didn't bother to show us how they worked or anything - they had no petrol in! We jumped on, headed to get petrol (which is so cheap!) and just headed off clueless! We ended up at a national park where we wondered for a bit seeing the waterfall etc. Back on we drove for ages and found an area that does extreme sports (none for us: just a lunch stop!) then just drove around stopping for a few drinks here and there. It was a great day - Daniel got a lot more confident and now wants a scooter when he gets home! We dropped the bikes off and went separate ways to get showered, Joe and I had a meeting at our guest house about our 3 day trek, and we were given a list of things to take and were told our itinerary. We headed back out to meet Ami and Daniel; we had dinner and searched the night market for some trainers for me! Got some and a steal at £8! We had a few drinks then said our goodbyes to Ami and Daniel as they were leaving Chiang Mai before we were back from our trek L
Wednesday (12th) we were collected from our guest house at 9am and were driven to meet the rest of our group… 1 Japanese girl called Yoshiko! So 4 of us in total including our guide! First stop was a local market where we bought some water & snacks. We then went to do elephant riding; again I don't think the elephants were treated too well. They had at least 20 elephants and most were chained up. Yoshiko and I sat on the seat on the elephants back and Joe had to sit on its neck. We had about an hour ride through the jungle - this is where I began to freak out - I saw the biggest spiders I have ever seen and the elephant was going so close to them. I told Joe who thought I was exaggerating until he saw one himself! At this point I tried to persuade Joe to come back to Chiang Mai with me but he was having none of it! We had to keep buying bananas to feed the elephant and it was so hungry! It kept scoffing all the bananas Joe gave it then threw its trunk up and kept snotting everywhere!
After the elephant riding we were driven to an area where we were dropped off to begin trekking. We had lunch (fired rice) then began walking, we came to a waterfall that normally has stepping stones, but due to all the rain fall they were under water! So we had to wade through the water it was almost waist high! Then we stopped at the waterfall for an hour - we could swim but it wasn't safe and the water was very murky! Joe and I sat chilling on a rock when the Japanese girl decided to take a dip and ended up being pulled by the current. Joe saved her but then fell in himself! Our guide wasn't much help - he was shorter than me and so skinny - It didn't help that he was actually asleep on a rock in his underpants when this happened - I tried to pull Joe back and dropped my fan which our guide was quite pleased about saving! After Joe was safely back on the rock I noticed a snake in the water, the guide threw a rock at it and it was dead - thank god as it was a huge cobra!
At 2pm we began walking, it was quite hard to begin with as it was all uphill and it was about 35'c! We stopped for lots of water breaks. The scenery was beautiful - walking through all the paddy fields. We reached our accommodation for the night at about 5pm, it was a hill tribe village that actually had quite a lot of people living there, we showered (freezing but refreshing!) Joe and I passed the time playing I-spy! The Japanese girl couldn't speak very good English so conversation was limited! We had dinner - Red Thai curry and chatted with our guide before going to bed about 8pm! Sleeping was interesting - lots of insect noises!
Thursday (13th) breakfast was at 8.30 and we set off at about 9.30. We walked through the village and then through the rainforest - Poor Joe kept walking through the spider webs as he was the tallest out the 4 of us! This is where we began seeing the big spiders again! We stopped for lunch at another village and chilled here for a few hours. We set off again about 2.30pm and arrived at our camp about 4. It was a wooden hut next to a waterfall. We had a wash in the waterfall but I soon jumped out after seeing all the water spiders! We had dinner early, and then set up a camp fire. Joe and I played I-spy again while watching loads of fire-flies in the sky! We were in bed by 8pm again. We had a terrible night sleep - sleeping on wood with no mattress and every time I shut my eyes I saw those big spiders, we were both eaten alive by some insect too.
Friday (14th), I was shattered, we had breakfast and headed off at 9.30 again, the trek on the last day was all downhill, I was fine at first but was soon over it, my feet were hurting (I'm surprised the trainers hadn't hurt before now!) and I kept slipping. Joe kept saying 'Come on city girl' that was p*ssing me off even more so I let the others go ahead so I could go at my own pace whilst cursing! We reached the end about 11.30 where we were picked up and driven to a village for lunch. After lunch it was time for bamboo rafting, I opted out after seeing the current in the river and seeing others falling off the rafts so I went with the guide to the end where Joe would get off. I waited a while and Joe finally came down, he said it was fine but knowing how clumsy I am I probably would've fallen off! We were driven back to Chiang Mai where we had a nice long shower and chilled for a while. We headed to McDonalds for dinner then booked a cooking course for Saturday!
Saturday (15th) we were picked up for our cooking course at about 9, we met our group - us, a Dutch couple and a man from Mexico with his teenage daughter. We chose what we wanted to cook (6 dishes!) I chose to make: Spring Rolls, Pad Thai, Tom Sab Soup, Red Curry Paste and the curry and Deep Fried Bananas. Joe chose: Papaya Salad, Stir fried chicken with cashew nuts, Coconut milk soup, Massaman curry paste and curry and Banana in coconut milk.
We all headed out to the local market where our guide (Ae - who was brilliant!) showed us all the different types of rice, chillies, fish sauces etc. Then we were picked up and driven about 20 mins out of the city to a farm, It was very nice. We were given a tour of the farm and shown all the ingredients that are grown here. We also picked all our ingredients for the dishes we had chosen to cook.
We headed into the cooking area where there was had a Thai welcome snack: It was a plate of roasted peanuts, coconut meat, ginger, shallots, chillies and sliced lime. We had to take a betel-leaf and fill it with a little of each ingredient - top with a sweet syrup, wrap it and eat it.. It was delicious! Then we donned our pink aprons to begin our cooking!
We began by chopping our ingredients for our stir fry dishes, Ae showed us what to do and it was to our gas cooking stations with our woks! It was actually quite hard to do the stir fry as everything has to go in so quickly and it cooks fast - My Pad Thai was edible but not the best (think I put too much water in!) - But still not bad for a first attempt! Joe's Chicken and cashew nuts was pretty good though! We sat down to eat our first dish then it was onto the spring rolls and papaya salad, we fried the ingredients for the spring rolls then made them - Ae was funny saying how ugly my spring rolls were but I thought they were pretty good for a first attempt and tasted good! Joe's papaya salad was HOT! Ae liked to make things 'sexy' as he put it which meant lots of chillies!!
Next we chopped our ingredients for the soups, and then went on to make the curry pastes. It was hard work! We used a massive pestle and mortar, the men did the mashing! Then onto the desserts - the deep fried bananas were yummy and so easy to make, I think these will be a hit at home!
We then went back to the cooking stations where we made our soup - not something I think I'll be making much at home - very limey and watery. Then it was curry time - the curries were so easy to make.
We finished and sat at the table with our soup, curry and dessert - we were already pretty stuffed from the spring rolls and stir fry's! But ate as much as we could. We were given a brilliant cookbook so you can all expect a Thai curry or stir fry when we get home!
We had such a brilliant day we had a great group and our teacher was hilarious! We were dropped back at our guest house and chilled before heading out to watch Liverpool v Man U! Wasn't the best result so Joe wasn't too happy so we headed back to pack our bags ready to head to Pai on Sunday