Arrived in Chiang Mai at 6am all bleury eyed as you can imagine. Fortunately we had booked ahead for accommodation so made it the hotel before collapsing into bed for a few hours. Later on in the day after suitable snooze had been had by all, we went for a look around Chiang Mai - supposedly Thailand's 'second city.' First impressions are positive and we have signed ourselves up for a cookery course, some trekking and white water rafting.
The evening's entertainment was settled as soon as we saw the sign for 'Pub quiz.' We were quietly confident bearing in mind the average IQ of traveller folk isnt all that great. Alas, however we quickly discovered that all sorts come out of the cobwebs for these sorts of occasions, including many a wrinkled face. Out of 20 teams, we secured a respectable mid league table mediocrity, outclassed by teams made up of people who obviously LIVE for pub quizzes!
The cookery course was great- seriously one of the best things I have done in Thailand. For less than 10 of your english pounds, you get a whole day of cooking up tantalising delights. We made 7 dishes on the whole including the centrepiece to any thai dinner; the quintesential thai green curry as well as Pad Thai, Chicken and Cashew nuts (though mine was tofu obviously), Spicy Tom Yam soup and spring rolls. I now cant decide whether to throw an Indian or Thai dinner party when I get back. Responses on the message board - which by the way is looking somewhat neglected at present! The day was rounded off by everyone receving there 'I can cook thai food' certificate and a toast to the chefs!
3 day trek
Now most people that know me well will be familiar with my certain distaste for walking/rambling/ambling/hiking. Give me a treadmill any day of the week in lieu of such aforementioned activites and I am much happier. It was therefore with a certain degree of trepidation that I signed myself up to a 3 day hike in the hills of northern thailand. Day 1 started off slowly to be fair with a 2 hr drive in a Sawngthaew (read truck and think sardine packed) before a stop off for lunch. Then before I had chance to finish off my pad thai and smack my lips with satisfaction, we set off for the 'village' and it was my favourite -continual uphill walking. I decided however not to moan and simply get on with it, although I could have pointed out the silliness of doing such a trek straight after lunch and in the heat of the day..... Pace I thought.
To take my mind off said hike, I started up conversation with Ann, a parisienne as she seemed to be struggling us Brits talking 'trop vite.' However, trying to do this whilst concentrate on not falling over proved difficult for me! After what seemed like hours but was in fact less than 2, we reached our destination 'village' and our residence for the night. We had a quick look around the tribal village and watched the sunset before settling down to a most satisfying feast cooked up by our guide Wi or Wee or Wei or however you prefer to spell it. It emerged that we were the only people out of the group of 13 that had signed up for 3 days rather than the paltry 2 day excursion chosed by the others. However by the next morning, we had a traitor in our camp as Sam defected to the other side and heading back towards Chiang Mai with the other '2 dayers' Only Al and I remained to battle on. Man against Nature...... Day 2 proved to be much easier than anticipatd with predominantly down hill walking, although I find this harder on the knees. The walk was punctuated by a trip to 2 waterfalls which were magnificent, unfortuantely my camera ran out of battery but I shall endeavour to put some of Al's photos up on the blog forthwith. The 2nd night was spent near the elephant camp before day 3's elephant trek, white water and bamboo rafting. The bamboo rafting sounds better than it was as the vessels kept nearly sinking. Hardly the relaxing float down the river I had imagined. All in all a great experience that I would be keen to repeat. It seems my distaste for walking may have been tempered after all!