Chiang Mai and Northern Thai was amazing!! Highlights in Chang Mai itself were a lovely little resturaunt with a lovely guy working there (and a rather obvious ladyboy!! lol), think it was called Nim's place - or something like that. Then we were looking around some temples and ended up getting blessed by a Monk!! He was so cool!! He gave us both wristbands which we will wear forever - for good fortune. Then there was Loy Krathong festival, which was AMAZING!! Everyone lights lanterns and they float up into the sky!! And everone floats these little candles in flower wreaths down the river (Jim and I did - although we didn;t brave a lantern!! All the westerners - of which there weren't many - who tried didn't do too well, ha ha!!) There was a parade with flats and dancers etc etc, it was awesome - we were so lucky to be there for that!!!
From Chang Mai we did an overnight hilltribe treck, which was awesome!! We stopped at an orchid farm and a snake show on the way (not gonna lie - the latter was significantly more exciting than the former) and then went for lunch with our hilltribe trek group - traditional Thai food outside at the start of the jungle type area - and then trekked for hours in the blistering heat!! It was awesome though - a bit tiring but sooooo worth it!! (Our guide was a legend - he wore jeans??!!! Must have been roasting!!) We stopped at a waterfall on the way and it was sooo refreshing!!!! jim and I went for a dip!! Our group were nice - an Irish guy called Paul and 2 french brothers who were touring the world playing football with underprivallged kids were the people we spoke with most (Jim could talk football so was in his element!!) When we arrived at the Hilltribe it was awesome. The people live in these wooden huts, and the children have so much fun playing jumping games with bits of string and stuff (imagine that in England??!! Not a playstation or an X box or a wii in sight!!) We had dinner and I got a Thai massage of a lovely little old lady!! We all has a few Chang beers and then our guide made a campfire and sang some songs - he was so cool - big Bon Jovi fan if I recall correctly. He was soooo drunk (and stoned, lol) really funny!! We all slept on the floor in one of the wooden huts - I was ever so slightly disappointed because I was hoping it might be an actual homestay, whereas all of us tourists stayed together, but we really couldn't complain cos it was still an authentic experience!!
The next day we had a further tour of the village, and the guide told us about some of the custome - they believe in animisn and that everything has a soul. Here's the example he gave us of when someon's ill - they think it is a spirit making them ill because they have upsat it - fo example if they piss in a bush, they have upset the bush, and the spirit of the bush is making them ill. They then have to sacrifice a chicken to the spirit, and if that doesn't wwork something bigger like a goat or something, and then if that doesn't work they're supposed to kill the poorly person - but that never happens because by that stage the person is always like "I'M OK!!!!" ha ha ha!! Following this last little tour we had three amazing activities - White Water Rafting (great fun - even if it wasn't as hardcore as when Jim did it in Oz!!) Bamboo rafting (they put Jim in charge of our raft for some reason!! ha ha!!) and an Elephant Treck!! That was FANTASTIC - I've been desperate to do that for agggeeeesss!! Was so god cos we were in the jungle so the terrain was up and down and round and round (not like all these wimps who do it on the beach, lol!!) Ourr Mahout actually swapped places with jim so he could sit on the elephants head!! No one else got to do that!! Our elephantb was really greedy and ate all his bananas in the first 5 minutes, ha ha!!
Then it was back to Chiang Mai, one more night and then we got out plane (laos airlines - you're safe with us! lol) to Luang Prabang!!