Bangkok to Chiang Mai
06.11.2012 - 16.11.2012 34 °C
I'm not sure how many people i've met over the past week and a half however its been quite a few and each time the first question asked is 'how long have you been here?' followed quickly by 'Where have you been?' the questions then expand and you find a vast array of different stories converging on you. It's colourful, it's interesting, exciting!
I spent 3 days exploring Bangkok, consicous of my 'newby' status. It is easy to spot the new travellers. Bangkok was once described as the Venice of the East. With this in mind I walked to the river and took the boat to the grand palace then walked down to Wat Po (Reclining Buddah), grand is the only way to describe these, maybe opulent. You know when you have reached a pier as a market has sprung up to tempt people as they board /alight. The more popular the stop the bigger the market! I ate in a street kitchen, walked from my hostel through china town to the river by Wat Po to view the River procession which the royal barge was apart of, I was in amongst the Thai people who had come out to spectate. On the way I walked through a huge street flower market, so colourful, the displays where gorgeous (and for £1 you could buy a nice flower arrangement). I headed into the modern side of Bangkok and the shopping centres which was an experince in itself - you could get lost in them! food markets, cinemas, aquarium, the sky walks joining them, the sky train crossing the city and then the MBK which can only be described as an indoor market, 5 floors!, very different from the airconditioned shopping centres 2 minutes walk away.
From Bangkok I joined a trip which took us trekking in Umphang, by the Burmese boarder. Joining me on this trek were 11 Danes, 1 Dutch & 2 Norwegian. We took a bus to Mae Sot and then headed in sawngthaew (a small pick-up) into the jungle. We drifted down the river for a few hours (via hot springs) and then trekked through jungle to a Karen village, camping one night on route and swimming in a beautiful waterfall. The Karen village had 52 families, approx 300 people and they had a mixture of 3 religons: Buddism, Christianity and the old religion (spirits). The next day we trekked out on elephants. They are graceful animals, quite human in some of their behaviours; they carefully placed their feet to avoid the muddy areas and even better they put their bum off the path when they needed to go to the toilet - very clean and considerate. after a few bamboo bridges our Jungle trek ended back in Mae Sot and i caught the bus to Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is a lovely place, it is busy, much smaller than Bangkok, with lots of interesting Wats (temples) dotted around. Chiang Mai has an old part which was once surrounded by a moat and wall, the moat is still there however the wall has gone in most places. We quickly found china town (not hard to find!) and ate sticky rice and banana cooked in a banana leaf - YUM. I found an amazing veggie restaurant for dinner, had a fabulous Thai massage (mmmm relaxing), visited Wat Phra Singh & Doi Suthrep, shopped in the night Bazaar and completed a Thai cooking course - I can cook Phad Thai now. It is not hard to see why people stay awhile in Chiang Mai. There is so much to do I have not even done a fifth of it!
Quirky Highlight: tuk-tuk with glitzy lights from Night Bazaar to Dorm
Lowlight: Feeling car sick on the winding roads up to Doi Suthrep (and really wishing I was in a pick-up rather than the air-conditioned mini bus - how many times can you say that!?!)