Archive | September 2012

Pai II

Pai is truly wonderful. I can see why people get stuck here for months. We were considering doing a border run to Burma for a few extra days here but it wouldn’t be worth the hassle and we could equally love places elsewhere and not get to see them.

One of the reasons Pai is so great is Burger Queen. The best burger in Thailand and proper chip shop chips! The logo is not a rip off at all.

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On our first full day here we went on a massive trip two hours away to the largest cave in Thailand. First we had to go up a mountain then down again and it was pretty cold on the way back because we were in the clouds! The view was fantastic.
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When we got to the cave, we had to get on a rickety bamboo boat with water coming over the edges in the dark, I was so scared!
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The guides had lamps in the caves and it was like being in Gringotts!
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As we left, there were a lot of fish under the bridge fighting each other! image

Yesterday we went to Pam Bok waterfalls. It was beautiful there. Once again there was another rickety bridge to cross!
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We swam in the water and some of us climbed up the rock face to jump in. The first time I climbed I was scared but soon got over it and did it lots!
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When we’d dried off, the whole group made our way to the “land crack”. A landslide happens once a year and has ruined the land the Thai people cultivated so they’re not allowed to sell their produce anymore.
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However, they still have some food from the land. You turn up and sit down and they bring you bowls of their food. Potatoes, peanuts (which were white), bananas, passionfruit and tamarins with juice and wine. At the end you donate money in a box. It made us all feel so welcome eating there.
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In this photo I had just tried the tamarin, it was weird!
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The view from the land crack was beyond anything. We felt like we were in Hobbiton!
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Last night we had a party and played Twister on a board that Louise and Martin made from scratch! We also got the UV paints and were covered in it!
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Even Rambo the dog got in on the act and came out with us too!
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This evening we went up to the Buddha on the hill to watch the sunset. We’d tried yesterday but didn’t get up there in time. Today it was perfect. There’s a giant Buddha being built so the scaffolding is still on it. Some people climbed up the Buddha but I don’t think it’s right to, it’s a religious symbol (and the scaffolding was not safe!).
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The sunset from the viewpoint was outstanding.
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I went into the temple alone and listened to the monks chanting, it was so peaceful. I got a bracelet made of cotton, a one baht coin and seeds for a small donation. When they were done, a monk came and banged a gong which set all the dogs off howling!
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So I’ve written alot! Here’s a picture of some chickens we saw.

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Pai I

The journey from Chiang Mai to Pai was pretty awful. I’m not the best in a car and knowing it was going to be really windy, I took some travel tablets to settle my stomach. Even with them, the last hour of the 4 hour journey was hellish and I just had to concentrate on breathing!

When we got here, we walked down a dirt track to the hostel, not knowing what to expect.

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Our hostel is beautiful and amazing! It’s a very basic hut with no windows but it’s fabulous.

There’s a central communal raised hut where everyone sits on cushions and chats.

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Next to it are the dorm huts. We’re in the biggest dorm next to the communal hut.

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The beds are bunks at differing levels throughout the hut, the highest is 3 beds up. Mine is the top one:

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The net stops mosquitoes but not other bugs that weasel their way in.

The view here is beautiful, we’re surrounded by rice paddies and not much else.

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Last night the hostel ran a barbeque and it was a good way of meeting people. So much chicken!

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I don’t even know where this crab came from.

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Today we went through the mountains and the jungle to a hot spring and a slider waterfall. Unfortunately I’d left my phone charging so didn’t get any photos but I stole this from someone else. The boys slid down the waterfall but we weren’t that brave/silly!

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Pai is awesome! Best place yet.

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Chiang Mai V

As we were so sick for 4 days, we gave up on the idea of a trek in Chiang Mai and decided to get better instead! We saved a fair amount of money doing not much and decided today to go for a cup of tea and a massage to make us feel better!

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It worked a treat and we’re finally up to moving so tomorrow we’re getting a 4 hour coach to Pai. Pai apparently has fantastic waterfalls and countryside so we’re really excited to get out in the open!

I’ll miss Chiang Mai, it’s been great but it’s time to move on!

One thing that would secure my appetite to return would be my Dad’s steak, chips and onion rings! I’m completely off Thai food at the moment, which is a bit awkward in Thailand…

Chiang Mai IV

Having felt quite dodgy whilst visiting the tigers, I decided to get an early night before getting up at 7am the next day to volunteer at the YMCA. Once again, hardly any sleep was had and I woke up feeling pretty miserable.

Kimberley had been approached by a YMCA youth worker and asked if she would help out at a day summer camp aimed at improving childrens English as part of the ASEAN network. The network consists of 10 Asian countries working together in the wider global community. The common language chosen to communicate via is English, hence the push for the children to learn it.

We arrived at the YMCA at 8am and it was all go from there! Ice breaking challenges, singing, dancing, activities.

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One activity was to play rock, paper, scissors in lines and join the lines together with the losers going behind the winners until there were two lines. Mine and Kimberley’s line won. Sam’s line had to accept the punishment of getting talc-ed!

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Then, unfortunately, they got us back.

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In the afternoon, we each ran a ‘station’. Mine was ‘Out Of Reach’ – the children had to answer a question in English and write their answers on a piece of paper high up, using teamwork to get to it.

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It was a really fun and rewarding day, we all just wish we’d been less sick! As we left, the organizers gave us B700 each, so roughly £14, which is apparently really good for a day teaching here – especially as we weren’t expecting it, having volunteered! The surprising thing about the kids was they looked about nine or ten but were actually twelve to fifteen. Maybe it’s a cultural thing.

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When we got back to the hostel, illness took over big time for both Sam and I. It’s put a slight spanner in the works as we were meant to go trekking today but don’t want to risk it yet! Today has been a complete write off; even going to 7/11 for water made me feverish again. I received a care package this morning from York who works here, I was so grateful!

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We’ve booked here at Deejai until Saturday to feel better. If things improve tomorrow we might go the park or the canal and just take it easy before heading to Pai with Ayesha on Saturday.

Chiang Mai III

We went to meet Ayesha and her friends Julia, Brer and Jo. We took along Alex, Kimberley and Neyra from our hostel. We ended up doing the Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’ on the karaoke – awfully embarrassing! Brer is a fantastic guy with really interesting life stories, I was riveted!

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It hadn’t rained properly in Chang Mai since we got here so it was about time!

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On Sundays there is a ‘walking street’ near to the hostel, which is essentially another night market but much cheaper. You can’t really walk along it, there’s so many people, everyone dawdles. Kimberley dared me to try one of these:

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They look like sweets but were essentially mashed potato covered in gelatin – gross!

Also gross was the fried insects stall.

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Today, Kimberley, Sam, Robin and I went to Tiger Kingdom where we played with baby tigers and lay with big ones.

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So now I can add baby tigers to the menagerie I want to bring home!

Tomorrow we are hopefully volunteering at the YMCA teaching English… We’ll see how that goes!

Chiang Mai II

Having settled in Chiang Mai, we met Liam, a lone traveller from Eastbourne and effectively adopted him. We went and met Ayesha from the coach ride here to do a quiz at an Irish bar and I surprised myself with getting a fair few answers right! I don’t even know how we ended up at Zoe bar but it happened and some Thai vodka was consumed. Big mistake. Vodka at home isn’t my friend and here even less so.

The next day was a write off, I felt sick, tired and homesick. We sat in the hostel garden to rest, recuperate, read and play with the cat.

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Some people even managed to sleep:

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In the evening we got some food from a place where you dangle your legs through the rafters.

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They sold some interesting foods, including serpent head soup and a dish we couldn’t figure out: ‘spicy white Jew’.

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I settled on chicken with fried rice, not wanting to eat Sam’s ancestors.
I meant to have an early night but got involved in a very international pool game. British, German Syrian, Chinese and Thai competing with and against each other with Rob, an English guy that runs the hostel coaching us.

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Then we moved on to teaching the Thai guys rummy, with varying results.

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There are the most wonderful bananas here hanging on bunches that you can help yourself to. I was so glad to get some proper fruit in me, having been cautious of the street sellers and their fruit washing techniques.

Today we went to the temple on the hill via an extremely windy road up the mountain. It was so high, we were above cloud level and I felt really dodgy – altitude sickness!

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We climbed 306 steps to reach the main temple, no mean feat!

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It was well worth the climb and the fear! Pictures can’t do this place justice in the slightest.

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The temple is one of 12 special temples in Thailand, each representing one zodiac year so it is widely visited by Thai and tourists alike. The main pillar is soon going to be wrapped with a robe and we were invited to write our names on the orange material.

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The temple is situated here as an elephant had a Buddha relic attached to it and it walked for 3 days to this point, stopped and died here and that’s where they decided the temple should be!

It’s been a great day and hopefully tomorrow we’ll go and see the tigers! Tonight we’re seeing Ayesha again with Alex, a girl from the hostel too. Oddly, we’ve all met separately but know each other. It truly is a small world of South East Asia backpacking!

A huge red bug just fell on my head
so I’m done now!

Chiang Mai I

I love Chiang Mai! It’s already one of my favourite places so far, just from the feel of the city. Having a bunny living at the hostel helps too:

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On our first evening here, we met some Americans staying in our hostel. We split a bottle of rum between us and went out dancing. It was just what I needed for a good nights sleep! Everywhere we go, there are dogs wherever you look, including in the bar we danced in. Apparently dogs have a revered status and are also allowed to roam free in temples. We’ve been spending a fair amount of time with Ben, a student from South Carolina as he’s always around!

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Last night the three of us went to the night bazaar by the river for a look around.

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There were many weird and wonderful things:

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I finally succumbed to getting a Chang beer vest top. Every second person in Chiang Mai has one.

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Today we went to Chiang Mai zoo, it was brilliant! Much cheaper than London zoo at roughly £4.40 entrance fee and way more interesting. We nearly exploded with excitement over the pandas:

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This one was conceived through artificial insemination because they were too lazy to mate!

We may look ridiculous but panda ears were a must.

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One of the best experiences was getting up close and personal with the elephants. The baby was adorable, even if it was trying to get into my bag for some food!

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In the second photo, the elephant was batting me round the head with it’s ears!

5 things I miss from England:
1. Family and friends (obvs).
2. Milk. Real milk, not condensed or milk powder.
3. Proper pavements.
4. Normal sized chairs and tables. These miniature ones hurt your back so much!
5. Doctor Who.

We’re in Chiang Mai for a few more days then we’re doing Pai and Chiang Rai before our first VISA runs out and we’re looking at Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia before returning to Bangkok to head South!

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