Bangkok & Chiang Mai
02.09.2009 - 17.09.2009 30 °C
I was going to post it all together but thought I'd give you all a break and do it in 2 parts, it's taken me ages to write though, sorry. So, on with the rest of Thailand...
Imagine I'm on a plane... Nnnrrrrrrrrrr
Landed in Bangkok and caught a bus to my hotel just off Khao San Road which is a mental place, not my hotel but the street itself... people try to coax you into bars with big signs saying 'very strong cocktail' and such like, I also got asked a few times if I fancied seeing a ping pong show. Being on my own though, I thought it might look a bit weird and to be honest, as interesting as it might have been, I wasn't really up for going.
My hotel room had everything you could possible need in it. A bed funnily enough, a bathroom, fridge, TV, aircon which are all fairly normal really then I saw the mini bar selection pack. It came with a toothbrush and toothpaste, half a bottle of whiskey, 2 different packets of cigs, a lighter, a map, crisps, chocolates, nuts and a packet of condoms!! only in Bangkok? Ok, so Bangkok was very cool, I went to an art gallery which was almost as weird as the ones I went to in Japan, I bought t-shirts with Singa Beer written on one of them and a pair of denim shorts which are size XXL. Not cos my arse is of a size J-Lo would be proud off but cos the sizes out here are much like they are all over SE Asia, too small for western people - honest... I ate noodles and fruit from street vendors, said no thanks to a million tuk tuk drivers and bumped into Dominique who I shared a room with in KL. The Gallery was amazing even if it cost 30 Baht for locals and 200 for tourists. I saw some pretty standard portraits of the royal family and some abstract stuff by the king himself then a room full of bronze heads and a painting of a chicken with bodies as coups for eggs and chicks. Some of it was a bit like something Dali would paint. I also saw a painting of a woman with one eye licking her finger. Her missing eye had melted and her eyebrow had flaked all over her cheek, she was also all covered in goo. Beside that picture was one of a big fat pinkish blue baby with a missing finger eating a blue ice lolly, a set of 3 tongue pictures and loads of other weird stuff. I couldn't take any photos as usual but I got one of a girl putting on mascara which was on a poster outside. I decided to walk on from there and see what else I could find when I bumped into a local teacher who gave me a map and flagged down a tuk tuk for me to use the whole day for much cheapness. He took me to the temple of the big golden budda first where you can buy a wooden box with 4 or 5 wee birds in it to set free and give you luck for the rest of your life poor things. I saw a cat with one in its mouth, I doubt it was so he could set it free, anyway I paid the money and set them free. One had to be coaxed out, it must have seen the cat. The big golden budda is big and golden, nuff said. We then went on to the Golden Mount which is a big golden bell thing on top of a hill (or mount) it was pretty amazing and rather windy too as I did my marilyn monroe yet again. The view from the top was fab. We passed a lottery market on the way to the next stop and a giant swing. Not sure why they call it the giant swing as it doesn't have a seat or anything. I was then taken to a tailors and told to buy something so that the tuk tuk driver could get free petrol, he was getting free petrol anyway for some reason that day which is why the whole day only cost me 20 baht and not the usual 70 but I got some material anyway cos it was lovely. It's on it's way back to Mums along with 3 other parcels which haven't arrived yet including my spanking new rice making machine woohooo!! It doesn't play a tune like my sister in Japans does but it's pretty cool. After a long winded chat with a tour operator and a booking which sorted out the next 2 weeks of my life I headed to the best attraction in Bangkok which is the emperial palace, a must in all guide books. Of course when I got there it was shut. I'm going back to Bangkok to get my flight to Hong Kong so will make a point of seeing the palace then all being well.
The next day I went to the weekend market and asked the bloke that took me if it was only on at the weekends... doh!! anyway we were supposed to be meeting up with some other people but they didn't turn up till I had left. The market has about 400 stalls all under one plastic roof, I near passed out after a bit and smacked my sore toe of the bloke in front of me which almost made me cry so after purchasing a torch for my trek and a pair of leather flip flops I hopped back on the train and back to Khosan Road. To get back there I had to catch a tuk tuk, they wanted 200 for the trip which is rubbish so after a bit of no way, yes way, no way I paid 60 plus another visit to a tailor. I got in the shop and one of the men came up to me and asked if he could help, I said no, just looking to which he replied 'we are tailors, if you don't want anything made I suggest you go look somewhere else' shocked by is utter rudeness I told him he was a very rude little man and I would be happy to leave his shop. The cheek of the man!! anyway I then bumped into Dominique who I shared a room with in KL. It was really nice to have someone to play with. Went out for dinner, breakfast and for a facial which was hilarious. It was really cheap and made our skin look and feel amazing but we got the giggles after the face mask bit. I looked over at Dom and burst out laughing which made her laugh and her face crack. I was then covered in a sliced up cucumber which got her started and we couldn't stop. The beauticians were most upset. I guess you had to be there really... Had some food and moved into a cheaper hostel which was a bit like a prison cell not that I know from experience, just from Cell Block H. It was fine though, I chose a bathroom with cold shower over a window.
One of the things I booked with the travel agent was a trip to the floating market, Bridge over the river Kwai and the tiger temple. The temple was the best bit!! if you're not into the history of the bridge then it's just a bridge over a river, nothing very exciting. The floating market was good though, very touristy as you can imagine and even though you have to pay 150 baht for a boat, you must give the driver a tip on top, the cheek. The tiger temple was ace. I'm not convinced that the tigers aren't drugged in some way but it was so cool to be so close to them. One of the big ones growled at me when I touch him/her but I didn't get biten. I wasn't told I had to wear something to cover my legs to the knees and my shoulders so me and a girl from chilli had to buy something hense the black moomoo in the photos with the huge butterfly on the front. Not a fashion statement just cheap and did the job, honest Miss Buckley (my fashion advisor hehe) anyhoo, I got lost one day as usual and ended up on a boat trip with a girl from bulgaria and one from Spain, it was ok but I'm not going to rave about it. When I got off I bought some bananas in coconut milk and what the woman said was sweet potato. It was tapioca, I will never forget the taste of it after Aisling and I had it in Sumatra Ewwww the bananas were great though. They have all sorts of weird and wonderful sweet things in Thailand and some that you think will be sweet but actually are far from it. Next stop Chiang Mai...
I caught the night train from Bangkok at 9pm after being dropped off at the station by evil canevil the tuk tuk driver. I wasn't expecting much from the train really but it was ace, got a massive bed which was already made up with a pillow and a blanket. You get a wee curtain to pull across the bed and on the otherside, cos I was on the bottom bunk, I had a huge window to gaze out of which didn't really come into play till it was daylight again. I munched the dinner I brought with me and settle down with my book. It was then that I pinged the first cockroach off my bed and onto the floor to join his mates that scurried away. I wondered how many I would end up eating in my sleep. They say you eat a lot of wee spiders and stuff in your lifetime when you're asleep so I suppose I might of. I saw a few others during the night running around the walls but no more on my bed thankfully. The sunrise was amazing, I tried to take photos but they were rubbish. I got off the train 11 hours after I got on it and was met by a bloke and taken to my guesthouse. I then met up with a great pair called Sinead and James and went out to a Thai boxing match. Thai boxing is brilliant, I really enjoyed it even when the 8 year old kids came out and beat each other up till KO and it ended tears bless them. They have a band playing traditional music to get the fighters hyped up while they do their stretching and bowing, I don't think any of the fights went passed 3 rounds. They even got one of the spectators up to fight with 5 boxers all blind folded, really funny to watch. The next morning the 3 of us left for our 3 day 2 night jungle trek..
Do you remember the Bukit Lawang jungle trek song? well, here's my version for Chiang Mai... (to the tune of jingle bells as before...) Jungle Trek, Jungle Trek, just outside Chiang Mai, see the rice fields, kill the snakes, sleep by the waterfall hey!! Jungle Trek, Jungle Trek... and so on, it's not that good really.
I loved the trek, I really had a brilliant time and could have stayed longer for sure, the food was brilliant all cooked over a fire, the views were fabulous and our guide was very funny. I even got re named ''Chilly On The Sun'' as thats how our guide Chang said my full name. Before we started trekking we had a ride on an elephant. As there were only 3 of us we all went on the one elephant, I got to sit on her head which was ace. Bit sweaty and wobbly so I held onto the bar behind me most of the time. I don't know how the locals can balance there with thier knees, it's really hard, esp when she keeps throwing her head back to get bananas from you that you buy as you go round from women in wee huts on stilts. You feel guilty if you don't buy them, very crafty. We had a baby elephant with us as well, very cute. The trek was quite hard in bits, the up hills were very up hill and it was so hot sometimes that a waterfall was a welcome break even if there were fish in the water that nibbled at your feet and legs. I tried some banana whiskey and smoked a banana leaf cigarette on our first night. We stayed in a hut on top of a hill with the toilet up another hill. The shower was very open to the elements and you could have waved to anyone coming down the hill. I bought a bamboo flute that night, it's wicked, makes a right howling sound. The next day after breakfast we headed off further up the hill then down it again and stayed beside an amazing waterfall, the roar off it was incredible. On the way there we had to cross a river, I didn't want to get my feet wet so thinking my legs are longer than they are, I tried to jump to the big stone in the middle. Of course I hit the stone and cracked my knee on it, lost my sun glasses and ended up in the river anyway. Why I didn't just take off my trainers, throw them over and walk through I don't know. My trainers are now in trainer heaven bless them. Anyway, I didn't get in the waterfall, it was a bit scary but I did help to cook the dinner that night and afterwards we all sat around a camp fire playing games and playing music on our flutes and this weird 2 stringed instrument which was a bit like a harp but home made, really nice. Our guide killed a snake with a big stick and we all slept well. On the last day we went bamboo rafting. I decided that I'd rather pull my big toenail off than get on a skinny bamboo raft and sail down the river so thats exactly what I did and I'm glad as a huge spider landed on one of the girls and the other raft crashed into a rock and when they all got off a few people said it was a horrible experience so I'm glad I didn't do that. It was great to get back to the guesthouse and have a hot shower and get some laundry done, we were all reeking.
The next day Sinead (who's last name is OÇonner by the way, yes really) went on a day trip to the golden triangle which is a tour that takes you to the Burmese border and to Laos. I'm not entirely convinced that we were actually in Laos, it was more like a big market across the river that had a sign saying welcome to Laos and they gave you a bit of paper with a fake immigration stamp on it or you could get your passport stamped with the fake stamp... I had such a laugh with Shimmers, she's so funny. We played cards in the bus and dipped our feet in the hot spring water at our first stop. I bought some coconut caramel which is my new favorite thing and then we headed off to a temple. I've never seen anything like it in my life, it was silver and white and beautiful. The guy that built it paid for the whole thing himself to give something back to the community he is from. Some of it was a bit weird like the inside, it has paintings of superman, the twin towers being destroyed, keanu reeves as the matrix and other things that are going on in our world now. It was all very political mixed with a bit of religion and life and death, very clever really. There was a monk sitting on the floor in the temple, I wasn't sure if he was alive or not let alone real but he was both. In fake Laos you could try the different whiskeys like Cobra, tiger penis, lizard and ginger etc. All minging if you ask me evento look at with snakes and stuff floating about in the jars ewwww. The Burmese border was interesting then we wnt to the long neck Karen tribe village which was bizarre. I loved seeing all the women with the rings round their necks but it was a bit like a zoo. They wouldn't be able to survive without us tourists so I suppose it's swings and roundabouts. Apparently the only ones that get picked to wear the rings have to be born on a wednesday thats also a full moon. The rings are to protect them from the spirit of the tiger and are ot only round their necks but on their legs and ares too. Some of the women have burns on their necks from the brass being wound round as it has to be hot and pliable. Sorry about my spelling by the way, I don't have spell check, Dad has pulled me up about it and I expect it does LeeAnnes head in but you all know what I mean most of the time don't you? Anyway after a few photos and a dance show we went home and I said cheerio to Sinead and James who left the next day for Laos while I went to a cookery course, it was amazing. Waaaaaay better than the one in Ko Samui. I made 6 dishes and a curry paste with a woman called May. I then ate it all (the curry paste was made into a curry, I didn't eat it on it's own) and went back to the guesthouse with a coconut icecream and lay on my bed rubbing my belly like a snake disgesting a horse for about 4 hours. I didn't eat again that day or indeed until lunchtime the next day by which time I was half way to the Laos border with 4 people from essex and 2 from australia....