"Oh my Buddah!"
23.12.2011 - 26.12.2011 26 °C
Hello guys, so christmas has been and gone already! We both hope everyone enjoyed celebrating, eating lots of nice food and drinking together ( we certainly missed each and every one of you thats for sure) but thank god for Skype!
We've been in Chiang Mai for 5 days now and we're loving it. It's alot cooler up north, not so humid so we've managed to do all of our sight seeing without thinking we're going to pass out along the way! Our first day was spent un packing our bags, doing some laundry ( FINALLY) and having a wonder around the city. Our hotel is situated in the Old city of Chiang Mai, its alot easier to get around than Bangkok and less tourists wich is great! So we started off getting a tuk tuk for a few hours to take us around 3 of the main temples, they were all beautiful so colourful and vibrant it was a massive change to what we saw in Ayutthaya.... but they were all the same, same, same... I think we're officially templed out. ( we have made a joint decision in that we're not going to visit another temple until Cambodia!) Anyway day one was very chilled we met our group who were going to be joining us on our 3 day treck for a brief meeting then headed to the night markets.
Day 2 - First day of our treck! we were up bright and early to get ourselves prepared for the day ahead. Our driver turned up at 9 , picked up our group and set off to the mountains! ( stopping at a fresh food market along the way to pick up some supplies ) Everyone was in high spirits, our tour guides were hilarious - Oy a tourism student from Chiang Mai university and Lan ( the man with not so much of a plan ) whos been doing trecks for the past 15 years. So first stop was Bamboo rafting!!! this was great fun, literally 10 strips on thick bamboo tied together to make a raft...thats it! 5 of us on one raft heading down the river, passing elephants along the way! We all got SOAKED.Second stop was a small farm village where we had lunch and wondered around waiting to find out what we were going to be doing next! 1 hour past, 2 hours and finally Lan ran over to tell us that we would be leaving soon but someone had had an accident 1 hour into their treck and no one knew what to do as there was no signal and no first aiders or medical equipment to help this person but we figured they were going to sort it out and it was going to be fine. It was very hectic, but finally we set off on our journey. The first hour was great, wondering through the rice fields, slowly heading up hill into the lush mountains.. Mike singing " everywhere we goooo people want to knooow, who we arrrre, where we come from ..la la la.." as you can imagine it got everyone going but slowly started ware off after 2 hours climbing UP HILL in 30 degree heat! ( i think mike got the hint and decided to save his singing voice for another day :P) We had been walking for 2 hours when we got to a very narrow pathway, crumbling rocks on one side and a 30 ft drop on the other we took it slow...very very slow but these guys had done this trip 2 times a week for the last 15 years so we trusted that it was as safe as it could be! It wasnt until we saw a group of people in the distance that we realised this was where the ( what we now know) american girl had slipped and broken her leg... All of our group rushed over to her, she had been walking near a stream to wet her feet in the water, slipped and broken her leg.. she was white, shaking and petrified about how they were going to get her back down to the village. None of the guides knew what to do. It took Alex, who was a member of our group to step in as he was first aid trained to try and make her feel as comforable as possible, me and mike got our emergency numbers out and went with this girls best friend and one of her guides to try and find signal to call the hospital.... but we were 2 hours into our treck which meant 2 hours away from the village. Anyway to cut a long story short fianlly one of the guides went back to the village, called a doctor and they arrived back with a stretcher and some seatbelt straps to carry her back down the mountain. After this we were all in abit of shock, it was the lack of organisation and lack of knowledge of what to do in an emergency that freaked us out slightly. All of our guides were telling us not to worry and that " everything good! everything good!" but we werent very impressed. The mood went from being upbeat to us all feeling like we just wanted to get to camp, get some food and go to bed. We arrived at our first camp at around 4:30pm, it was right next to a massive waterfall which was fantastic, we all got our swimsuits on and went to cool off. This got our spirits up and we enjoyed an evening of fresh homemade chicken curry done on the bbq , a big camp fire, beers and a 2 hour long game of cards! Finally, bed time.
Morningggg, we all woke up at about 7:30am, after sleeping on bamboo flooring in a large hut we were all quite excited about the day ahead. 4 hours trecking to a small hill tribe village, the tibe we were going to be staying with were called the White Karen tribe, a village of only 50 people all of whom were related in one way or another. Unfortunatly we didnt really get that much info out of our tour guide, he was too busy giving us biology lessons on the opium that grows in the mountains and picking leaves from trees that if you broke the stem you could make bubbles,all very entertaining wen you've been walking up hill non stop , every break we had there was something new for him to show us! I have to say, if it wasnt for Lan and Oy i dont think we would have managed to get through the three day treck, they both were great characters and pretty much made us laugh the whole time, full of stories and funny sayings " Oh my buddah!" being one of the most commonly used by Lan! Anyway, we arrived at the village just in time for sunset. The people where lovely, so many children running around full of smiles and cheeky grins. We managed to hear lots of stories on the history of the tribe as Lan has been visiting them for the past 15 years, so all in all it was a great experience to see how far away from our world these people are. Once again we made up a camp fire, had dinner , met the Chief of the tribe also know as Pu ( grandfather) who looked about 100 ( was only 80) he didnt speak any english but his face told us all we needed to know. After we ran out of wood for the fire we all went to bed, accommodation the same as the previous night...only all of us were exhausted and hoped that we would get atleast 5 hours of sleep. No chance. Our hut was right opposite the chicken pen, which meant at 4:45am the roosters started singing, then the sound of cow bells filled the quite in between roosters and what we didnt realize was that at 5am the village started to wake up too!!! so thats everyone except for us.. great.. after scraping a couple hours of non memorable sleep we decided to press on the trek back down the mountain to get to the elephants. (something that had quietly kept us all very excited! )
The trip down seemed to be a doddle but it was still with its quirky entertainment from lan. Oh yeah and CHRISTMAS!!!! not quite the usual one we were used to. A few out of tune songs got the walk off to a happy start. and hearing the auzzie versions of our jingle bells made us all laugh. the breaks from walking we had been taking on the trip were no let down just because we were walking down hill...Lan wipped up a jungle joint and instead of offering us drugs he shocked us with his crude demonstration of gun powder! yes you head correctly gun powder. this genoristy of thrills helped us down the mountain where we reached the end of the trek. All exhausted but relieved to reach the bottom we only paused for a minute before we were carted off to lunch followed by visit to the see the ELEPHANTs!! Very excited when we got there!
char and i were the first to get on an elephant, it was reassuring in some strange way to know before we got on the elephant that thai's dont do health and safety.. at least our nervous laughter at times helped us get through near moments of almost falling off this elephant, as the trip we were taken on went up and down some pretty steep terrains and there was no seat belt just like in other transports in thailand. so when your hanging vertically over the edge as the elephant is going down a rocky hill your quietly praying that the elephant is strong enough to take your weight but kind of thinking that everythings normal as it can be on an arranged tour! It was a really great experience though and was definetly a christmas highlight for us both and one we wont be able to repeat for a very long time! After hour 40 minute ride we were able to feed the elephants bananas! sounded bonkers at first i thought that was a monkeys favourite food! but these elephants new exactly what they were and after we gave them one they wasted no time using there trunks to put it in there mouths whole - peeling it would be a waste of time right? as we were leaving i ( mike ) decided to ask an elephant ( just so happened to be the naughty baby elephant! ) how his food was and if it he was enjoying it. not offering him any food this time i must have looked like i was trying to take his food away from him.. he didnt waste any time in answering me back. He tucked his trunk with his (precious) food underneath him and lowered his head and charged at me. luckily i have enough padding in certain areas that he just managed to knock me for 6 before i managed to roll out the way. not really sure what had just happened i got up to relive the whole thing through chars face! took me a few minutes of laughing hysterically to get back to normal. it had been a great way to end an interesting trip. in the evening of christmas day we headed into chiang mai old city in search of some filling grub! avoiding anything that wouldnt come close to resemble a roast dinner that we knew were being eaten at home we ended up at a boutique thai restaurant. we had some lovely food and watched the night market as other people did the walking for a change! we ended the night on a lovely couple of skype sessions with the family and hit the hay pretty rapidly. a proper bed. priceless.!
Boxing day... the cooking course!! :D :D
this blog is starting to turn our to be an essay! so were gonna keep it short. we had a lovely day cooking a total of 12 dishes which we are very much looking forward to cooking you all when we get back! some truly delicious flavours even if you do end up sweating the chillis out afterwards! the day ended with a couple of skype chats and an enjoyable but frustrating 90 minutes of football.
The next blog will not be for about a week or so due to unknown internet connection availabilty in laos but be sure to check in soon for the next update!
Lots of Love
Mike and Char xxxxxxxxxx