Monday, January 30, 2006

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hello everyone

It's a beautiful sunny morning here. We are enjoying having a four day weekend thanks to the Chinese New Year festivities. And, boy, do they celebrate! Yesterday afternoon, we went to the river to a Chinese festival market. I took a few photos of that so I will post them after I have finished the 4 episodes of our holiday.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of Luang Prabang.

We left Luang Prabang, and found ourselves in the bustling, modern city of Chiang Mai, home to over a million people. As you can see from the second photo some of the inhabitants are very modern and a bit a bit intimidating!

Some of the temples here are truly ancient, dating back to 1200, and the city is surrounded still by a moat, with the remains of a few ancient city gates, built in red brick.

But we realised on the first morning as we stepped out of the hotel that we had to be really strict with ourselves and just choose a few temples. After Vientiane and Luang Prabang we were feeling very 'full' of all the beautiful things we had seen and there wasn't much 'room' left for more. So we chose the oldest and most famous.

All around the city there are villages of excellent handicrafts, from wood carving to silk painting to silversmithing and we spent an afternoon walking among endless displays of wonderful objects.

For Daniela’s birthday on 5th January we attended a cultural dance event with Khantoke Dinner (which is the Thai equivalent of a Spanish tapas meal) and much whirling around of exotic looking ladies and male dancers carrying long knifes or flaming torches. It was a lovely way to celebrate her birthday and to end our holiday.

Tired but very happy with our trip we returned to Singapore.

Next time I will post some photos of people we saw in Laos so you can get a feel for the human side as well as the temple and countryside.

Until then keep well and safe



1 comment:

Joanna said...

I loved Chiang Mai. Mostly due to the roof top reggae bar. During one day we went by tuk-tuk to ride the elephants. I felt sorry for these animals as there was a lot of mud and it was so hard for them to walk in it. They seemed to be very happy though as soon as we got into the river and they played with the water. Of course they also enjoyed when we fed them with bananas. In the mean time our tuk-tuk driver got drunk and was claiming the vehicle was broken so he couldn't take us back to Chiang Mai where we were supposed to go on another tour for white water rafting. We didn't know what to do and finally after threatening we will call the Tourist Police he called his colleague to pick us up. It took ages for him to come and when he finally did they tried to fix the tuk-tuk. Namely they connected both gas tanks with a hose. As soon as we felt the smell of gas we all jumped away. I mean the other guy was smoking cigarette! Still it didn't help and the colleague didn't fancy taking us four for free to the city. He changed his mind when we said his colleague is drunk and we will notify the police. So off we went 6 people in a small tuk-tuk but we managed!
White water rafting was incredible as well. It was raining in the mountains so while we were on the river the level of the water started to increase rapidly. One of the boats flipped over and when we rescued the team, boat and paddles we found out plenty of red ants were coming on it from the above tree. Back to the water to wash them off. We couldn't turn back so we did our best to survive. At some point we had to leave the boat and walk bare feet in the jungle to avoid the worst sector. When we finally reach calm water one of the instructors found it funny to flip the boat once again. Nobody laughed though.
So we though we were safe when we reached the shore but... well to get back to the base we had to climb to the top of our two boats lying on the boot of the pick-up which came to take us back. No seat belts, no support. Wet boat, wet clothes and hairpin bend. But what memories!