I know I say this for every blog but I have truly had an amazing time in Thailand so far!
On Friday morning our alarms went off early again, around 4:00 AM myself and one of the other girls from my dorm, Anissa, left for the airport. We had a 71/2 hour flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Once we arrived in Thailand we had to clear immigration retrieve our bags, re-check them and go through security again. We went to our next gate where we met the rest of our group from TEAN , about 35 other study abroad students and Rob and Christian the TEAN employees. We then had another hour flight to Chiangmai.
Once we arrived in Chiangmai we were Greeted by our Thai hosts. We started walking to the restaurant where we would have our first group dinner, halfway there the cars met us, here in Thailand we travel around by trucks where there are two rows of seats facing inward and no back door or windows. We had an original Thai dinner of pad Thai. Then we took taxis to the imperial hotel (that's right I said hotel not hostel-- it was such a nice change for the night) the taxi was not so much a car but more like motorbikes with carts in the back for passengers; the driver I had was really fun he would swerve in and out if lanes slamming on his breaks and sounding his sirens. We got our room assignments for the night, I was with Anissa my friend from Fremantle and basically passed out once we got to the room.
We had to wake up early on Saturday to start our day. We had the buffet breakfast at the hotel then our group met in the lobby we loaded in the trucks and headed to a local market where we could buy bug spray. Then we were off to the elephant camps, for those of you who know elephants are my all time FAVORITE animals and not only were we near them we were able to ride them!!! Most of the group rode two by two on a seat on the elephants back but I got to ride bareback on the elephants neck, that's right on it's back with nothing to hold on to-- it was amazing!!! We walked through the forest and there was a baby elephant that walked along side of us. We then came to a watering hole where the elephants collected water in their trunk then sprayed themselves with it to cool off, since I was on the elephants neck I'm pretty sure the elephant missed it's body completely and was aiming straight towards me -- I got soaking wet. We had lunch at the elephant camp, it was pad Thai again.
Then we had an opportunity to participate in an optional zip lining excursion, and of course I signed up for it! If our whole group participated in it then the company gave us a huge discount (this explains a lot for the later part of the story). We drove to the middle of the forest where the trucks just randomly stopped, another truck with all of the equipment pulled up and we suited up putting on our harnesses and helmets. Then we walked. Little further into the forest where we began the course. The course was filled with 15 zip lines and various activities before each line, for example one of them we sat at the edge of the platform and were dropped straight down to a lower platform only connected to the rope. Everything was going great until the last zip line. This was the longest one and a handful of people had gone before me with no problems, the only thing is that they were a lot shorter than me. Then It was my turn and right after I jumped off the platform my ankle hit a tree, my shoe went flying off and I started gushing blood. When I landed on the next platform the zip line worker told me to climb up the hill where the rest of the group was and he would try to get my shoe. So I walked back while my ankle was gushing blood, down this really steep muddy hill. Rob the TEAN leader took care of my ankle once I got back to the group and eventually they found my shoe. Later we found out that we were the very first people to go on the course -- I guess that explains a lot haha.
We were then taken to a spot where we were dropped off to begin our three hour hike to the hilltop village. We were literally hiking through the forest on no set path; halfway through we came upon a waterfall where we stopped to have a swim. We then continued on our way we saw the beautiful sunset and finally made it to the hilltop village where we spent the night. All 35 of us slept in one big room on the ground. For dinner we had more Thai food. Then before we went to bed we sat around the campfire learning Thai songs and dances. We then went to the very top of the hill where we lit paper lanterns and made a wish as we set them free.
The next morning we woke up very early with the sun. We ate breakfast, had a tour of the village and got back in the trucks to head back to the hotel. After the drive not many of the rooms were ready yet in the hotel, but I got one of the first rooms because I had the open wound on my ankle and they thought it would be a good idea for me to shower and clean the cut. We had lunch in the hotel and free time after that, the weather has been over 100 degrees everyday so a couple of us decided to go to the pool. At 4:00 we all met back in the lobby to go to the 2 hour traditional Thai massage -- let me tell you they moved my body in ways I didn't even know possible!!! We had free time for the rest of the night so we went to the famous Sunday markets, had dinner at a street vendor and did some shopping. This was the largest outdoor market I have ever seen there was literally no end to it. About halfway through Anissa and I decided to go back to the hotel,we had to get a cab again and let me tell you once I made it back to the hotel I felt so accomplished that we could catch a cab and get back without getting lost.
This morning we took a Thai cooking class it was so much fun!!! The instructors first took us to the local food market to show and explain to us all of the ingredients we needed for cooking. Then we cooked four different traditional Thai meals including: pad Thai, soup, stir fry, and curry chicken. It was all sooooo good! We had free time once we arrived back to the hotel so we went swimming again. Later we went to a Buddhist temple, it was beautiful! To get to the temple we had to climb 320 stairs. we were blessed by a monk, he have us strings to wrap around our wrists to signify we were blessed and then we saw a ceremony of the monks praying. It was an hour drive back to the hotel where we then went to dinner.
I know this was a really long post but it has just been such an amazing past couple of days! We fly to the islands tomorrow!
I will post pictures once I return to Australia