Chang Mai Trek

Although it was going to be a short trip to Thailand we tried to fit in as much whole goodness as possible in the 5 days available……so…..after a good nights sleep from downhill mountain biking and cooking it was time for us to set off on our 2 day/1 night trek into the high hill jungles of Chang Mai.

It was going to be very exciting….

The first part of the trip involved being picked up in an old pick-up van and taken to a crappy market to buy essential things like bottle water carriers and pig bums???(You’ll have to look at the pics later). The journey almost left a couple of the group behind after the hinge on the door mysteriously opened….

There was around 10 of us, some French, some Chilean and some English (i.e. us). It was probably the first time that we’ve been in the minority but made the best of the situation. It didn’t stop Rach from practicing her French which was quite enjoyable for me.

After an hours drive, we bailed out and boarded the Elephant river express. It was a very amusing experience…..we got to feed it bananas, and as we did it seemed to work much better. As soon as we ran out though, the elephant went on strike and stalled half way up a steep hill….causing total grid lock. It was a real tourist trap and we both felt a little guilty afterwards but saying that the elephants looked in good shape. We sat down for lunch which believe it or not was rice. The group all got on well and the ice had been broken. It was now time for the hard trek up hill to the hill village through the jungle. We were ready…….or so we thought.

Looking at the group, it became obvious that we were in the top 3 oldest and that the whipper snapper’s were leading the chase. The humidity was a real problem. Sweat was streaming and my pants were soggy too but we soldiered on and made it to the hill tribe village where we could shower and prepare for the evenings food and entertainment and watch the sun set with a cold beer. The villagers were very friendly and offered us massages at the price of about 3 pounds…..this however was only for 30 minutes but what the heck, it doesn’t get much better than this. The food was delicious and our guide who was called Nam, got on his guitar and played a traditional song called DA DA DA DA TA TUM which had us all singing along. A couple of us also chipped in with a few songs and that helped make the local whiskey go down a treat. The night sky was absolutely clear and the stars were like diamonds which made this a very special night. The bedroom was just a bamboo hut with mattresses but very comfy.

We arose early, had breakfast, and set of on our way down hill to where we would be doing rafting. The jungle trekking was interesting. The trees had vines hanging so I quickly did a Tarzan impression and collided with a tree, ouch….there were fallen tree trunks, slippery slopes, all which had to be combated…..tsome of the slopes I found easier sliding on my bum……his was not a trek for the beginner. Along the way we stopped off at a beautiful water fall. Rach and I decided it would be a good time to swim in the ice cold water…..it was very refreshing.

A few hours later and we arrived at the place where the rafting was going to happen. It as however out of season as the river was low but we tried our best. We kited up. 6 in a raft plus the skipper who shouted the orders….this was important because it took all our effort to get the thing to move over the first rock. But once we’d freed we went down the rapids at high velocity….or maybe it was at low velocity…….I know we’ll be doing this again in New Zealand and hopefully it will be more scary than the Teapot ride at Light Water valley. It was still good fun because we were racing the other raft with the young lads in it. We won, but for our victory we got thrown out at the end. To finish the day we did a slow cruise down the shallow part of the river on a bamboo raft with a pole…..Lunch was included and what??? RICE again.

If anyone wants to do the trekking I would definitely say do it….great value, about 25 pounds each and a good way to keep fit. Make sure you have good shoes though. Not like the guy who did it in flip-flops and mangled his toe….

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A poem about Chang Mai – Thailand

Come to Thailand and visit Chang Mai,
Eat lots of green Thai curry that might make you cry.
It’s spicy and tasty, they’ve got the lot,
So be a ‘man’ and ask for it hot hot hot.

Bottles and bottles of big beer Chang,
Dare to drink more than 4 if you can,
Cocktails at the roadside from the mobile bars,
Loads of late night shopping from the busy bizzar’s

Glampackers and bucketstackers in every guest house,
drinking and chatting about the price of an ‘Ounce.’

‘Special’ massage parlour,
On every street corner,
Selling happy endings including face, neck, shoulder, and back,
Finally finishing off with an and empty ‘sack’.

‘Old fat bald men’ and lady boys,
looking to use each other as toys.
There’s loads of sport bars and lots of slot machines,
Of a different variety if you know what I mean (wink, wink)

Sexy young girl, or could be a bloke???
Wearing a black mini dress and having a smoke.
Shopping for wallets, handbags, watches or tourist ‘tat’.
Terrible T-shirt ‘tag’ lines and ridiculous hats.

Street food is great and ‘Oh so’ cheap,
Suspicion arises about where they get their meat.
Tuc-tucs and scooters but only a few,
Some 2 wheel creations that look really cool.

Lots of wicked tours out up in the hills,
Including elephant jungle treks, swing like a ‘Gibbon’ to give you a thrill.

The sun is hot all day until dusk,
The Thai people very friendly and who you can trust.
It’s in their nature to have loads of fun,
With the tigers and elephants in Thailand Kingdom.

Extreme Mountain biking Chang Mai style verses cooking

Another day and it’s time to do some more crazy 2 wheel action, this time with no pillion. And no engine….

We arrived in Chang Mai Thailand from Laos after a somewhat enormous 23 hours of traveling on a collection of South East-Asia’s motorised transport systems. These consisted of tuc-tuc van, bus, boat, tuc-tuc bike, bus and finally foot and resulted in sweat and sticky pants….

Our time in Thailand was going to be brief so it was down to business and book some excursions asap….

I chose the mountain biking whereas Rachel chose the Thai cooking class.

Andy – Biking it up large!

All kitted up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day started well for us with a nice breakfast of tea and fruit musili and then I  got collected from the hotel to the bike hire shop for a briefing and bike/equipment collection. It was probably the first time in nearly 6 months that we’d both been away from each other for more that 10 hours….it was a nice but also a strange feeling……the biking tour ranged from different abilities and included a selection of different routes.  The route I chose was for the extreme!!! As it said in the leaflet.

A small group of 7 collected our gear, including knee and elbow pads as well as helmets and boarded the van which was going to carry us up to the summit of one of the local mountains 1600m meters above sea level up in the Thailand mountain range. The bikes were stacked on the roof. Once at the summit, we tried to make the strange safety pads fit our alien bodies and waited in anticipation to receive our 2 wheeled friends. As the tours in Thailand have a good safety record and high standard of equipment (nothing like India), an assessment of our ability on a mountain bike was carried out. This meant riding down a small slope and riding over a log without falling off…..I passed with flying colours…..however some didn’t and therefore advised on which route to go on.

My group of intrepid bikers

The groups were arranged and off we went. One guide at the front and one at the back making sure the fallen were not left behind. I tried to keep in the front so that the dust didn’t end up in my mouth or my eyes. The satisfaction gained from riding downhill on a good bike and controlling it ‘on the edge’ was awesome. The irony of the day was from one of the guides who happened to be from Wakefield in England. He gave a big speech about not backing off or slowing down for the bumps on this particular part of the track, he set off and I followed behind….during his steep decent he managed to crash into a small tree and I almost ran him over….

The only problem with the tour was that the guide at the front had to stop quite often so the group behind could catch up and also not get lost. This is why the tour took several hours instead of just 1 hour. The final location was down to a beautiful lake 400 meters above sea level where we ate delicious Thai chicken-rice.

When I get back home I’ll definitely make it a priority to get out into the Yorkshire Dales and do some Extreme Mountain Biking Northern style as well.

Rach – Cooking up a Storm

What can I say that cannot be said through the medium of pictures.

Nice outfit for cheffing

ingredients....

... become dishes

I came… I cooked… I ate…. I slept in a hammock… I will be cooking these dishes for a lucky few when we get home!
xx

Tigers…Thai-Style

Have you ever wondered what a Tiger looks like close up?…….oooo they look lovely! and they feel just like a kitten!

Big Kitty

A very surreal experience was had today at the Tiger Temple, just outside Bangkok. Built as a meditation centre in 1994; the temple now welcomes tourists to cuddle, bathe, feed and dote on the biggest collection of softies going! There are some rumors that the cats are drugged to keep them calm… so we were a bit apprehensive… but couldn’t resist the pull of the tiger balm… since we missed out on the big cats in India.

As we are only in Bangkok for 2 days, we needed to get there in a hurry, which meant taking a tour… sadly, we had to enter ‘the tourist dimension’ before getting to the Tigers. Visiting the ancient floating markets of Bangkok… was about as far away from traditional Thai culture as possible… unless Thai people are interested in fans that also double up as hats… and lamps made from shit coconuts… check out the gridlock on the photo!

Total Gridlock Mon

We then headed to the Bridge on the River Kwai… at this point in the day having spent more time in the van driving or waiting than actually doing anything. Again we hit tourist-okyo… but this time, there was an amazing museum to see also… which was worse than the one in India with nailed in artefacts… it was impossible to see through the glass cases for dust and the wwII photos had been bleached almost into oblivion by the sun! Not the best tourism experience. We did see a massive lizard though!

So by the time we arrived at the Tiger Temple, our expectations were low…the trip was very quickly recovered when we saw how close we could get to the tigers… and when we found out that we were not going to be stung for extra money to have photos taken! Unless we wanted to “hold the head of the big tiger”… something neither of us was too keen on!