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Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Travels through Northern Thailand

After Bangkok Chiang Mai is like heaven on earth. We were staying just inside the old city walls and can walk to most places. Most places seem to be Wats and we have seen quite a few of these already – still it has to be done so watting we went.

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To break it up we did a one day trek which had an elephant ride, trekking, white water rafting and a bamboo raft. The elephants’ trunk technique was more interesting than the elephants as a form of transport, the white water was brown and the bamboo raft had neutral buoyancy about 8 inches below the surface of the water resulting in us effectively sitting in the river – still a fun time was had by all.

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The food in Thailand has been amazing and in my mind has eclipsed that of China. Having selected a cooking class from the multitude of seemingly identical offerings we braved the cockroach infestation at the market to pick up our ingredients and then we were off to school. Our efforts were extremely good even if we do say so ourselves and we got a free recipe book so hopefully we can recreate some of it when we eventually make it home.

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Quite uncharacteristically we booked ourselves onto a cycling tour from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. Over 3.5 days we cycled about 130km on and off road, across rice paddies, muddy hill paths, through fields of peanuts, guava, mandarin, lime & potatoes.

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We cycled past the local prison which according to Mr Win, our cycling guide, houses 10 to a cell so that, when sleeping, the inmates had 5cm spare space either side of them – he assured us that it was quite dangerous in there – “lots of ladyboys.” Oddly though the warden had placed plastic models of Giraffes at the front gate which looked somewhat out of place.

We ate noodles in a rice farmers hut in the paddy field. Between turns on the bikes we visited temples, caves, a strange hut with jars of preserved animals, climbed a waterfall, I had a rather unpleasant time in a monk's toilet, and we assisted our guide Damian with the Bangkok Post cryptic crossword.

Of everything we had done the cycling, though very tiring for us poor unfit souls, has been the best thing so far and definitely beats a sweaty, bumpy bus ride. Enormous thanks are due to Mr Win & Damian of Crank Adventures ( www.crankadventures.com )

Cycling Tally:

- Hills walked rather than cycled: 3 (Niamh wants it to be noted that she only walked 1)
- Photos taken by locals of two farangs struggling up hill: 1
- Gear cable thingy broken by Steve crashing through a rut in the road: 1
- Chain coming off Steve’s bike: 5
- Fast dismount by Steve into 6” muddy water of a paddy field: 1
- Despairing tour guides: 2
- Despairing wife: 1

Posted by steve1000 04:40 Archived in Thailand Tagged elephant wat raft cycle Comments (2)

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