Bangkok and Chiang Mai

So we flew into Bangkok from Hanoi and I don’t know what it is about this place, but whatever time you land its always bloody hot. As soon as they open the airplane doors, the heat hits you and you instantly start sweating!

We were hoping to actually see some of Bangkok this time instead of the inside of a guest house but again, it was not to be. Unfortunately Abby’s stomach bug hadn’t got any better since Vietnam so we when to the pharmacy to get some antibiotics and spent the next few days just hanging around the room waiting for them to kick in. We also missed our chance to do a trip to see the bridge over the river Kwai and a ride on Death railway which was something we were both looking forward to. Oh well, we’ll have to come back at some point!

So from Bangkok we headed north to Chiang Mai putting our Vietnam night bus experience behind us, we thought we’d give the Thai night bus a go – plus the trains were all sold out and flights were too expensive for when we wanted to go. Not making the same mistake twice we went for the “VIP” night bus. This was so much better than we thought. This was luxury. We actually had seats, they reclined all the way and even had a little TV to watch – ok it only showed TV shows in Thai but was better than nothing. We even had a bus steward who came around with water and snacks! We actually got quite a few hours’ sleep and before we knew it we were there.

Chiang Mai seemed to be quite busy in terms of available hotels and hostels and we spent a good few hours wandering round trying to find somewhere we could stay. After asking at numerous hostels we managed to get a room in quite a dingy place but the room was clean enough, we only saw one monster cockroach.

We visited some of the temples around the city which were pretty extraordinary, much more exquisite than the ones we’ve seen before. Not having her glasses, Abby thought statues of some monks were of real people therefore was completely astounded when tourists were going up close to them to take pictures!

We did a day’s cookery course which was fantastic! Both Abby and I finally learnt how to cook our favourite Thai dishes properly, which we’re going to perfect even further when we get back home. Our host, Yui, was brilliant. She was so funny and knowledgeable about the ingredients and processes etc, the day went so quick! We even learnt how to crack and egg with using only one hand and without hitting it against anything. Abby managed to crack it in a way which saved the yolk – pretty hard to do, Yui was impressed.

A trip to the market introduced us to some of the local delicacies, bee and ant lava. Neither Abby nor I tried them, they looked disgusting. The market also sold pink eggs, which were left to ferment for over 12 months and we got the impression they’d be bloody horrible too so we stayed well clear.

The next day we visited an elephant orphanage which was such fun! We were a bit sceptical at first as we weren’t sure how well the elephants were treated but we could easily see that these loved their environment. Each elephant had a Mahoot (a keeper) who pretty much looked after them 24/7. We were in charge of looking after Niaomi for the day. She was very friendly but very big and uncomfortable to ride!

There was also a baby elephant of only 3 years old who would give out free kisses for a banana. It was the funniest thing ever watching Abby received her kiss!

We got to feed the elephants for 45 minutes (they eat so much!) and after riding them through the jungle for an hour we took them to the river to wash and bathe them. It started off ok and Niaomi was enjoying it, but then it just turned into a big water fight and she nearly drowned us. So what do you do in a situation like that? Well I seized the opportunity of having a 4 tonne water pistol under my control and declared war upon the other people washing the other elephants. Great fun and I do believe we won!

So we left Chiang Mai after a couple of days and flew back down to Bangkok for one night before we were due to get a bus even further south and a boat to our first island! You’ll be glad to know neither of us was ill this time while in Bnagkok (third time lucky) so we had a proper sample of the nightlife and food! Also Abby dragged me round the biggest market in Bangkok with over 8000 stores selling the same crap! Hopefully she has had enough of markets now for the rest of the trip… I doubt it!

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