We are here, the last stop of the Asian odyssey. Not knowing what to expect we travelled straight from the Lao-Thai boarder to Chiang Mai, 6 hours south west. Arriving at 11.30pm after 28 hours of boats and buses we were exhausted and were taken through the massive city that is Chiang m=Mai. There’s paved roads, highways, sky scrapers, side street stores, beggars and bars. We were not in Laos anymore.
The first day we did what any kiwi would do, get on the piss. Downing Chang beers, vodka and Bacardi breezers we ventured out into town to check out Muay Thai, Thai boxing. Its loose, the ring is in an outside stadium surrounded by bars… including a lady boy bar. We watched thai boxers knock each other and made bets. One fight three boxers were put into the ring and were blind folded. They swung at each other in their own isolated darkness, blinder than a bat. They would even start going at the referee. One of the last fights we watched a midget fight, surprisingly he won.
We dedicated the next day to a hangover and looked into all the activities we could get amongst.
30th August – mountain biking
Signing up for mountain biking was a random interesting idea. We were taken up into the mountains of Thailand. After a safety briefing and being geared up we set off riding. It started off mellow, just concrete roads flying down hill, pretty standard. Then s*** got loose, we were biking over rocky hills, downhill mud slides, bushy cliffs, through creeks, and malaria infested jungle. We went bear grills style and rubbed mud all over us to prevent mosquitoes feasting. We passed local village people hacking away at plants for food. The whole ride was insane, really hard. I was so far out of my comfort zone. Since it is wet season the tracks were incredibly slippery, steep greasy slopes, it was like biking down hill on ice. I crashed twice. Once going over the handle bars going down a tree root drop and another on the oily surface of a hill. I didn’t break anything, just my confidence. When we arrived at the bottom three and a half hours later, we were greeted with a lake to swim in and some food. I had quite the sense of accomplishment after that.
31st August- Elephant training
I can’t express enough how amazing this was. We were taken to Jumbo Elephant camp which is home to seven elephants. First off we learnt the commands of the elephants.
Pai is to go forward with a wiggle of the bum and hands flat on the elephants head.
Quay is to turn and you direct the elephant by putting a small hook by its ear. How is to stop which became quite important. We feed the elephants and bonded with each one. The youngest Maddy liked to dance, Asian elephants do this to keep cool. She was adorable and very cheeky. After having practise runs on these gentle giants we were allowed to take our own elephant bare back through the muddy steep terrain of the jungle. I was paired with Maddy, the little s***. She wasn’t to keen on listening and since she was small she was very hard to balance on. It is unbelievably uncomfortable sitting on an elephant. Kahn was paired with Big Joe, the biggest Elephant of the pack, he was the king. He is the biggest animal I have ever seen up close. He was amongst the jungle as soon as he was let loose, taking Kahn into trees and bamboo ripping missions. It was hilarious; Kahn was hanging on for dear life on top of this tender animal. It was so surreal riding an elephant, its soul searching, its calming yet exhilarating. Maddy started being a rascal and was keener to try rip into bamboo like Big Joe, though since she was so small she didn’t have enough power so I was being flung around on top of her, laughing and screaming. Her trainer jumped on with me and helped to control her. We ventured down the crazy landscape toward the drinking hole, as soon as Maddy saw water she got so excited that she started sprinting toward it. This forced me to bounce forward which made the tiny thai trainer bounce on top of her head. He was balancing himself on top of Maddys head and once she put her head down to drink he had no choice but to jump off into the water.
We then rode our elephants to the swimming hole. Maddy was excited once again and bowled past Big Joe and ran into the water, whilst I bounced around on top of her. She rolled me straight into the water, drowning us both. She was so amazing, so happy and playful. Once the big elephants came into the water I looked up and saw these towering mammals hovering over me wanting to get amongst the water. Since maddy was rolling around like a puppy I jumped on Big Joe with Kahn. HOLY s*** he was big. We sat four metres off the ground on top of him, it was amazing. He moved so slow and proud, kneeling on all fours to let us get on and off him.
I have a new found appreciation for elephants, they are just incredible. So large yet tranquil. We were told that Thai respect Elephants highly, they were used in the war like horses and would crush enemies heads. There are 3500 wild elephants in Thailand and 2500 in camps. These camps are not cruel, they are a gift to the elephants, to ones who have never learnt to survive in the jungle.
That night we celebrated our significantly amazing day by dancing at a reggae bar all night. The live band even played Katchafire, we went nuts.
Hungover, severly hungover. Jess and I had booked a zip lining trip up in the high hills of the jungle. Jumping in the van we were feeling weary but our spirits were soon lifted. We were geared up and ready to go. With no instructions on safety we were told the names of the cables then clipped onto the zip line and pushed. The guides were tricksters, always joking around. They would yell “oh no look out” once you had started flying or say “I don’t know how this works, it my first day” Just to f*** with ya. We were with 4 Irish guys and an Australian so no one took it to heart and gave them s*** right back. It was the perfect cure to a hangover; adrenaline and laughter. It was the perfect cure to anything really. We would literally be flying above the treetops, from platform to platform using a bamboo shoot as a break. We abseiled down from high trees at fast speeds and then come to a fast stop, bouncing as the rope pulled tight. The scenery was beautiful, lush green mountains coated in plush bush. We were so high, some zip lines were 130 metres long and 40 metres high. I was flying. I was a gibbon. I was a monkey. I was a f***ing bird.
Pumped with adrenaline we went back to the guesthouse ready to go watch another muay thai fight. We met up with the boys from the zip line and made some more bets.
Walking home at midnight we saw an elephant roaming the streets. He was a year old and very hungry. Elephants are like people, they have strong emotions and their trunks are like hands, there something magical about holding ‘hands’ with an elephant.
A slice of pai should be on every ones travel menu in Thailand. Three hours north of Chiang Mai, Pai is a small hippy village that is enlightening for the soul. We arrived at 6pm and were keen to get amongst the live band scene which the town is known for. The huts are made from bamboo and play reggae to drum and bass. We were invited to an Israelis birthday party just down from our house. After a few drinks we strolled the dark deserted streets to find people laxing out on cushions having some quiet drinks. That didn’t last long. We caused havoc as soon as we arrived, ordering crazy alcoholic concoctions and singing happy birthday to the three Israeli girls while holding them above our heads on chairs. We started talking to a policeman and a muay thai trainer/cop. They feed us up on local whisky. The sergeant took Kahn and Michael into the hills to shoot his gun. LOOSE!
Waking up we had blank minds, empty heaving stomach, self inflicted sickness. I hate hangovers. In the night Kahn and Michael found a fire extinguisher. To wake me up they blasted white smoke killer into my face. I could taste it in the morning.
We hired scooters and took a drive to a waterfall about twenty minutes out of town. Mesmerizing. Deep pools of pure rain fallen water cascaded over rocks. It tumbled over my aching body, flushing away my hangover. Underwater it sounded like a wave crashing over you, I miss that sound. We explored this paradise, running over the rocks, soaking up the scenery. It was like pride rock, where is Simba?
The roads are smooth, beige coloured carpets taking you to hidden paradises. The thing about being inland is that you find paradise in the strangest places. To me, paradise has always been amazing beaches, sun, an isolated treasure, but when you are so far from the ocean you find ecstasy anywhere. I found one in Pai, A beautiful natural spa that is up in the hills. The hot springs are boiling with some heating up to 80 degrees. We found one with dropping trees and the perfect temperature to soak in. BLISS
There are elephants everywhere on the way to the Hot springs. They are happily eating and dancing away. We stopped at one that had a huge hole in the side of his trunk, a bamboo shoot had gone straight through it. I love this elephant, he loved to hold my hand with his trunk and drag me around his body.
Pai is nestled inside a valley, it has the greenest of all green landscapes, my eyes could taste the fresh land, intoxicatingly beautiful.
Parasites, viruses, b******s… the big chunky Charlie! Actually Daffy wasn’t to spot on with that line, he may have found the greatest beach in the world off the coast of Thailand, the mythical beach where Leonardo Dicapro smoked weed and knifed a shark but he wasn’t right about Bangkok. It’s a city, it is inevitable to find chaos but its nothing like I expected. I expected Kuta times one hundred, hagglers, poverty, scooters and cars everywhere, a black cloud of pollution hovering over the city or drunken teenagers throwing up in the streets. I haven’t seen any of this. The streets are clean, the people are friendly and the atmosphere is one like a festival. I really like it. I like Thailand, it has become one of my favourite places.
We had a loose night, a night to remember. We had a crew of us including Annette, Catherine, Natalie (our uk friend) and some travellers we had bumped into. Consuming cocktail after cocktail we ended up at a ping pong show. We raced on three tuk tuks, doing wheel stands and unsafely speeding through traffic. It was crazy.
Okay this next part…readers discretion is advised. If you are offended easy don’t read on, go read a sugar coated lonely planet guide because I am not censoring this.
Vagina. I said the dirty word, now that the ice is broken we can move on. Now these shows are more than ping pong, we watched girls strip then drink coca cola and reproduce coca cola through their vag. I don’t mean your standing urination I mean coke came out like coke at the other end. Don’t ask me how, but apparently its doable. We watched girls shoot darts out and pop a balloon, we watched them blow out birthday candles on a contaminated cake with a puff of air, we also saw them pull out colourful fairy lights like a magician pulling out a long long scarf out of a hat. There was all sorts of crazy s*** you can do with your vagina apparently. We only stayed for half of the show as when a man and a woman came out they started causally having sex on stage. It was wrong, it was werid, it was live porn. We had seen, we had experienced we wanted out.
That’s ticked off the list, wouldn’t go again!
Back to P.G 13 stuff, afterward we danced watched live music and drunk many more cocktails. All and all good night, day after… HELL!
Okay daffy I found the chaos, Bangkok is crazy. Lights everywhere, buildings are either run down to non liveable wrecks or flash apartment buildings. It is a city, a hot over populated thunder storm area… goodbye Asia!
How has it been 12 weeks since I left home? How am I not missing home? I love home, I have always missed it when I am away, why not now? I miss people from home and that’s about it. I don’t even miss home comforts. I can’t imagine having a cellphone, I can’t even imagine sending a text. I can’t imagine having a fridge and a pantry and a Tv, I can’t imagine staying in one spot longer than a week or two. I can’t imagine knowing the day when I wake up.
I have assimilated, adopted my lifestyle into asia. It doesn’t bother me that I can’t have what I want, if something is not available I get over it in an instant, when I go to a toilet I don’t care that there is no toilet paper or a seat in that matter, I don’t mind twenty hour bus rides and I don’t mind cold showers. I don’t mind finding a cockroach in my soup, I don’t mind never feeling clean. These 12 weeks have been the most interesting, life changing weeks of my life, its indescribable. I have nightmares of waking up in New Zealand, which is strange because new Zealand is amazing. I have never been patriotic but I;m stoked to say I am a kiwi whenever we meet someone new.
Asia is over, its time for London, its time for another part of the earth. I am no where near done exploring, I am just getting warmed up.
Thais are friendly and joke around a lot.
Thais seem to eat late, breakfast is around ten, lunchtime around three and dinner can be around ten.
Satseeka – hello
Kon cup ka- Thank you
Thais respect and love elephants, they are seen as war heros. The locals give food to elephant camps to feed them.