Hi everyone... its been a while so this might be a long one..... where to start?
Well after a good nights rest in bangkok hotel we thought lets just wonder the streets for a while, check out Khao San Road and maybe a few temples etc... on the first street corner a man who we thought was being very helpful gave us some pointers of places to go and even got us a tuk tuk (like a 3 wheeled motorcycle with two covered seats at the back for passengers) and got us a bargain price of 40Baht (about 60pence). Well, this driver took us to some sights : lucky buddha first, then he decides he wanted to take us to tailors and jewellry shops a lot, because it meant he got free petrol, after a coouplke of these stops he left at the 40m tall standing buddha without us even paying him, ihtink because he was more happy with his free petrol tokens. we then got another tuk tuk wanting to go to the golden mount ( a big structure built wiuth 300 steps to climb to the shrine at the top, painted golden!) but not without anouther stop at another gem?shop first! he then left without any payment from us as well! finally got anouther tuk tuk to take us back to Khao San Road (near our hotel) for just 10Baht (about 15p!)
?The next day was a bit more successful. after giving up on the tuk tuk's knowing that we wouldnt be able to get anywhere fasy with shopping we took a taxi to the grand palace which was really beautiful structure. then in the evening we met our tour group for the trip up north. there's 10 of us and the leader (called Soon). We all went out that night for dinner and drinks, the only other guy in the group getting lots of unwanted attention from the local men :)
The next morning 5 of us took a trip along the river on? a long boat, you see a completely different side to the city when on the water, along the canals out of the very urban centre you see many small shacks of people living off the river.
in the afternoon we went to the station for our long train north! luckily we were upgraded from a fan cooled train to an airconditioned train:) we left the station about 6pm. onboard we had a meal then about 10pm a lady cam along and converted all the seats to bunkbeds, which were actually pretty comfortable, got a good nights sleep before having to get up about 6 or 7 am to get ready to leave the train. once in chaing mai we rested for a whilke and had breakfast, the 5 of us decided to go on a bike tour of the city and surrounding area whilst the rest went sightseeing and shopping. what we didnt think about was that the next day would be hard work also! the cycle was about 33km long!! took us around some local temples, a crematorium, an oxfam sponsored village that was originally used for leprecy but now is more like an old peoples home. they give the opld people jobs to do and then sell the handicrafts they make! the cycle took about 4hours to do with stops.
after that we were too tired to do much, just went out for dinner and to bed by about 10pm, ready for the trekking the next day.
we took a songthaew (a pick up truck with a bench each side and a roof to keep the sun off) for a couple of hours to a waterfall where we went in for a splash around and a shower - very refreshing - unfortunately its the dry seasin so there wasnt enough water to really swim in. thendrove for another hour or so before starting the trek to our first hilltrtibe village ( a Karen village) we trekked though the 'jungle' for about an hour and a half/ 2 hours before getting to the village - mostly downhill so hard work on the calf muscles! the jungle wasnt quite waht we were expecting, very dry and quite sparse, not much vegetation around the ground level, i think we were expenting more like rainforest - which i think we will see next week.
The village was very small, about 15 buildings - we all stayed in one shack - on bamboo beds with a thin matress - not as uncomfortable as it sounds. the meal they cooked for us was lovely local thai food then we sat around the campire in the evening. Being in the village was very humbling experience, i thought it seemed quite intrusie also: we werent the only tyour group there and i expect they get new people in almost every day.
hey next day we set off for a 4 hour trek in the morning - very hard work as the temperature was up around 38 degrees and not a lot of shade - eventually got a to small camp for lucnch before setting off for an hour long elephnt trek - ourrs was called Bouja, was great fun. then we walked some more in the afternoon befroe getting to out guides village for the night - more oovely food and campfires- the niext morning we took a bamboo raft down the rive to civilisation! Tom a nd Chaz ( the other guy in our group) had to steer the raft, whilst the ladys sat down and got a free ride! not so good as it sounded for them toough as the raft was mostly underwater they whole way down - amazing that it stayed intact - it took lots of punishment from rocks in the river. that took about 2 or 3 hours then back to civilation in another songthaew. spent last night drinking and eating - off on the train back to bangkok this afternoon - this time no air con though :(
no time left on internet - hope everyones well