On arriving in Chiang Mai I took a tuk tuk to Julie's Guesthouse. It is a great little place with large open lounges, one at the entrance and one on the top floor and only 90p a night for a dorm bed. As soon as I sat down I'd started talking to two lads one Irish one French who had been out on the lash after copleting a trek the day before. Like all the Irish I've ever met you couldn't tell that Sam had touched a drop the night before but the french lad still looked ruined!
After a quick lunch I went to explore the town to find some activities with which to occupy myself and meet some more people. In the end the cheapest and best rates I could find were those back at my guesthouse. Therefore, I booked in for some cross country downhilling the next day and a two day trek the day after.
That evening I just chilled out in the lounge talking to a bunch of people about there travels and what they were up to next. This is what I love most about travelling, the fact that you get to meet so many different characters.
The next day I had to be up early as I was being picked up by the bike company (adventure downhill). Despite the owner trying to tempt me onto the 6x track which circumnavigated the national park I opted for the slightly shorter 3 course. On this I was joined by two guys from LA who had flown in that morning! A Fin who had cycled down to Thailand from China and a Jordy who lived in Clapham North.
The ride itself was exhillerating. For the most part it was not single track downhill but this did not make it the slightest bit easier. The roads we road along looked as though a Landie had been along, coupled with rain and sun which had smoothed and bake the ruts hard. These ruts were enormous! And as the best way, nay only way, to get over a rut is to let go of the brakes we litterally were flying along the 45km course. This evidently led to crashes. One mistimed break on my part turned me into superman over the handle bars, but forunately I had a nice soft landing as I rolled 10 metres down the mountainside. Pain getting back up tough. The second time was not as fun, Andy, one of the LA boys, crashed ahead of me on a very steep slope, as I had no chance of getting passed I tried to brake, landed in a rut and went flying skidding along on my left side. Ouch! From this point things became a little tricky. Sadly it took me an hour to realise why; in the crash one of my back breaks had jammed on making it a lot more difficult to control the bike and nearly impossible to go uphill. However, a little tinkering soon had this fixed and away I went again. The final part of the ride involved taking shortcuts along single track. An amazing rush, but a times I couldn't help but wish I had rear suspension rather than a fixed cross country bike. We finished the tour at a beautiful lake. GREAT DAY!
In the evening I met two new people in my dorm, a lad from England who was travelling after A Levels and a Finnish girl who spoke perfect English, French (Martian I'm sure). We all went to watch 'The Box' wierd film. Though at the start of all Thai films they have an 'Our King is Awesome Film' which everyone has to stand for. Can you imagine that back home?!
The next day I went off on my trek. My first stop was at a local village for the long neck tribe. They are refugees from Burma who use very heavy brass rings to force down their sholders thus creating an elongated neck.
After this we all headed off on an Elephant trek. I did not enjoy this. As soon as it began you could see how badly the elephants are treated. They tie a rope arpund their ears which they can pull on to control the elephant. This is just cruel as an elephant's ear is the most sensitive part of its body. Secondly, the conditions they were kept in were disgusting. The elephants were chained up with no give on the chain. I witnessed one stomping away on it with its foot! Very sad thing to see and I wish I had not been a part of it.
Next onto the jungle. This I loved. The scenery was beautiful, and compared to walking in South America is was so easy. I could breath! The tour wound us up a mountainside which came close to the Burmese border. Here we stayed for the night looking out onto the forest canopy and I chatted away with the Germans about football and with one of the actors from East is East who was there with his family.
The next day we trekked to a waterfall where we could swim in the freezing but refreshing water. Then onto do some White Water rafting. It was a little tamer than I was used to but still fun. After that we went along the river on bamboo rafts which were perpetually sinking. Good laugh though.
That evening I was meant to be going out, however, apparently when Sara came up to get me at 12 I was unwakeable. Gutted that I never made it to Spicy's. However, as they all made it in by 5 I dont think I could have lasted.