Day 41 - 14/11/09 - Chiang Mai (Thailand)
Bob met us this morning at 9:00am after breakfast for a drive to Doi Suthep Temple. This is a Buddhist temple atop of a mountain and a climb of 306 stairs - this gives an amazing view over Chiang Mai.
After Bob dropped us back off at the hotel, we had just enough time for lunch before we were met by our new guide, Rit. Rit would be our guide for the 25-30km bike ride for the afternoon. The ride included seeing a Buddhist temple (which Rit was a Monk at until last year), a former leper colony which is now a rehibilitation centre, and part of the old city of Chiang Mai.
The sights were amazing and we were very pleased when we were given plenty of free water and even stopped for free afternoon tea which included some delicious banana cake and fruit.
Once we got back to the hotel (after 4hrs), we decided it was time for another swim to help soathe our bodies before another big day full of adventure tomorrow.
Day 42 - 15/11/09 - Chiang Mai (Thailand)
Today was going to be another big day! We were met by our guide for the day, Tom (female). Tom advised us that the order for the day would be white water rafting (at Mae Tang river), an elephant ride, and then a mountain bike ride. This meant that we were not fully prepared as we understood the rafting was at the end of the day, and therefore did not pack suitable "dry" clothes for the elephant and bikes after the rafting.
It was about 2 hour drive to the rafting, with about an hour of very bumpy roads. The boys even had to go on the back of a ute for the last 10km while the girls transferred to another van. All up there were 14 of us on todays tour (4 for just rafting and 10 for the whole day).
First up was a safety breifing where we learnt the basic commands and what to do if you fall in or if your raft capsizes. Tom also explained that the rapids were currently grade 1 to about grade 3. It was then that it really sunk in that we may get wetter than what we originally thought. We learnt that when we were paddling, we had to count as a team: 1,2,1,2, and so on.
We fitted our life jackets and helmets and then it was time to began our white water rafting. We had 3 rafts, 2 with 5 people and our raft with 4 people - plus one trained raft leader to guide us down the rapids. Once in the raft, our leader went through the commands with us once more so that we had all practiced them, and then we were away.
The water was very calm at first and we were enjoying the peaceful surrounds and small rapids that we were coming across. We believe we may have been laughing and enjoying ourselves a little too much and that our leader got back at us by leading us between rocks were we did not fit. This caused our raft to be completly covered in water and it took our leader and the leader of another raft 10mins to get our raft free and we were back to floating down the river. We then had to pull up to the side so our leader could join the other 2 leaders to help another raft which was also stuck (halfway up a large rock).
About 2 minutes after we started back down the river, we got stuck between large rocks and it was about few minutes before we finally squeezed the raft through the seemingly impossible gap. While drenched from head to toe, we were still having a blast and were pleased it was a nice warm day!
Then there was the rapid that we got stuck 1/2 way down, until another raft decided to try and help, by running into us and capsizing our raft. Jess and Erica both grabbed onto the raft while Rhys floated with our leader and raft and Scotty floated by himself until the raft Jess and Erica were on floated by and collecting him also. Erica had been grabbed onto the raft almost straight away, while Jess was dragged down small radips with most of her body swept under the raft - she now has 3 large bumps on her knees and everyone has there share of bumps and nice blue bruises!
We all managed to change back onto our original raft for the last few rapids and to get to the end of our rafting course. It was then time for lunch - which we ate in our wet clothes, before travelling a few minutes down the road for our elephant ride. We named our elephant Stampy (not sure if it was male or female though). The ride was for about 45 minutes through the river and a mountain, and was quite scenic.
We then travelled back to our previous location for the 10km mountain bike ride to see a hill tribe village. Jess was unable to bend her right knee (from the rafting injuries) so missed out on riding and had to go in the van. She was disappointed, but later felt better when she saw the size of the hills that were involved. The van began filling up with people who were unable to complete the ride, and Jess finally had some company!
After a quick walk around the hill tribe village, it was a van ride back to hotel and then off to get some dinner and much needed rest.
We have a very exciting day ahead of us tomorrow!!
Take care - Jess & Scotty