I arrived into Chang Mai in the early morning on Monday after an epic 14 hour train journey, although it did give us all time to get to know each other on the group. There is a mixed bag of people on the trip.
On the first day we had a trip to see the local temple, which was very good and we all thought it was a much more spiritual temple to others we had seen.
After a leisurely lunch we went to the Tiger Kingdom in Chang Mai. Although I had done all the tiger things I got 10 minutes with the baby tigers which was pretty cool. Unfortunately both Phil and I thought that the keepers weren't treating the tigers very well and we decided to leave early than others and miss out the Cobra show and monkey show. To be honest we were pretty tired anyway so we ended up just having a swim and relaxing at the pool.
The next day we started our 3 day trek. We had to complain as it was advertised as 5hrs trekking a day but because there were a few people on the trip who are very unfit the program had been changed to 2 hours. The main reason Phil and I wanted to do the trip was for the trek so I mentioned this to Ngoi (who is our guide) and he split the group up into 2 groups so we had a harder trek on the first 2 days. To be honest the trekking was much easier than it should have been and we were both a bit disappointed with STA.
The rest of the trekking was brilliant as we stayed in the local hill tribe huts and I felt like I was at boy scouts again. We also played football with the local school kids which was really good fun (we lost 3-2 despite another brilliant goal by me!!) but there was about 15-20 kids and about 8 of us so man marking was a waste of time lol. We also did some more elephant trekking which was fun going through the local rivers, although the seats were not all that stable when the elephants were going down hill.
The third day of the trek we spent 4 hours on a bamboo raft going through the jungle and villages which was really cool with the hot weather and rapid waters. I got a good life jacket sun burn - luckily it turned to a tan this morning!
We went to the Thai boxing in the evening which was really great and I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. It cost about 12 quid for 8 fights and we saw a guy get knocked out, a guy get his leg kicked so hard he broke his leg. I gambled with the locals (and lost obviously) and with Ngoi - who I actually beat a few times. I did not think the fighting was staged but the international fights (Thai v Croatia and Canada) were staged to get money from the foreigners.
After the boxing we went to a karaoke bar - well I say karaoke bar it was like OK karaoke in Leeds but also a brothel at the same time. It even had the price of a lady on the menu (2 beers would cost more!). So we went left pretty sharpish and went to an up market dance club which was pretty good apart from the hangover this morning, No more Singha beer for me!!!
Today we went on a Thai cookery course which was much better than the Vietnamese course as it was much more useful dishes and I got a good cookbook after the course. After another quick dip in the pool (so refreshing) we went to visit a few city sites including a Wat and the cultural centre. We catch the train back to Bangkok tonight - another 13 hour journey