Bangkok-Chiang Mai

It was warm in Hong Kong. It was hot in Bangkok. Luckily all cabs have air condition and one of them got me to a nice hostel in the middle of Khao San. My first evening in Bangkok was spent walking a couple of hours and then taking a tuk tuk tour around the city with a funny driver. A tuk tuk is a three-wheeled motor bike with room for passengers in the back. It was great fun. I wasted one more day in a similar way and then I met up with my new tour group at the hotel. Because of flooding, one third of the group had cancelled the trip, so we are only nine plus the guide. There's one couple from Toronto, one from Boston/Peru and one from Ireland. Complemented by a Kiwi girl, a south-african girl and me, the group was ready to go up north with our guide Chai. He's a funny Thai that has a contageus laughter and he laughs alot. The first night together, we all went for supper except for the Americans, they would arrive during the night. The dinner was alot of fun, and the group is full of fun people. Names will become clearer later but for now, let's call the Irish man pirate, south african girl half-breed, Irish girl elephant rider and the kiwi kiwi. With these people I went out after dinner in the search of a pingpong show. We couldn't find anything we found remotly close to safe, so we just strolled the streets instead, looking at junk and into the doors of strip clubs. The kiwi and I had fish clean our feet. That was hilarious! A million small fish ate the dead skin off our feet. Next to us sat two asians speaking broken german with eachother. They were vietnamese and thai and had met eachother while working in Switzerland. Funny situation.

The next day we had a 12 hour bus ride to Sukhotai. That was too long, but due to the flooding, we had to make a detour. Finally arriving at the hotel, the canadian couple and I went for a swim in the pool. The others were all too tired and went to bed. The canadians are really funny and they love animals. Everywhere they go they end up rolling around with the stray dogs and almost bringing them on the bus with us. In Sukhotai we biked around and looked at ruins at the former thai capital. It was great fun and I had my very first coconut. It was good. In the evening we all went for food and drinks. It was great, with live music in a restaurant next to the water. Thailand is a very pretty place. The pirate, who lost his eye in an Irish pub fight in which he won his wife, and I wanted some beers. Together with the canadians, half-breed, kiwi and the elephant rider we crossed the street at our hotel and went into the most random bar I've ever seen. This was something of a residential street and the owner of the bar was a 30 year old tiny thai woman. The guests were 3 local guys and us. As staff she had one other girl and a ladyboy. The owner loved getting drunk with us and when I went for the toilet a kid's head poped out from some curtains. A fourteen year old boy was running around there and it turned out it was the owner's son. Later that night he drove around on a scooter with his mother holding on to him. Happy parenting! Did I mention that they also had a strip pole here? The kiwi and Irish loved that one. On the way back the Irish were eager to ride the white elephant outside our hotel, so we got some great shots. The pirate fell off, but only because the elephant started moving. Good times!

After a tough little morning we had two rigshaws driving us around in a local town, letting us have a look at rice fields, teak factory and locals making different traps. The one driver was quite a character, and having only one tooth did not prevent him from talking alot. He had some awesome sound effects when he was explaining how everything from eals to mice were captured in different bamboo traps. Every trap resulting in "No come back!" for the victim. The elephant rider had a tough day in the heat but from noon and onwards things were better. After this very cool experience we took a second class public bus for 6 hours. That was horrible, but when we finally got there I dragged my sweaty ass to bed and slept well until the next day.

This day we woke up early because it was elephant day! We went to an elephant park and it was really cool, and sometimes slightly sad. Riding elephants and feeding them was very cool. Looking at elephants with blown off feet was not so nice. Chang means elephant and is my thai name. It's also a famous brand of beer here. I got some crap, saving the elephants with my donations, and we headed off to Chiang Rai. From this time on we had private vans which was really great. I tried to teach the half breed, being half German and half English I thought she had the genes in order, chess. It was exhausting and I called it a draw and fell to sleep. We arrived in the evening at the hotel. Our awesome guide, who uses dragon feet crocs, had prepared us for this night. It was cultural exchange night and everyone had to have a show for the others. It was really, really funny and some put alot into it. The Irish took us dancing an Irish wedding dance. The Kiwi danced a mauri dance, with facepainting and all. The canadians had a canadian quiz. I had the toilet-paper game from our annual Xmas parties. Drew was singing a song they always sing in the stadium in Boston. Miss Peru was unfortunately sick after getting milk in her elephant coffee. Not fortunate when you are lactose intolerant. She owes us a show. The half breed had a mimicing show of african animals and at the end we had Chai. He showed us two really funny songs with dances and we all sang and danced to a thai chicken song and a thai elephant song. Shitloads of fun!

The next day we went to the Mekong river and took a speed boat up to Laos. That was cool and some of us got some more things to fill up their suitcases with. We then went to the burmese border and had a peak over to that side. Up here is called the golden triangle between these three countries. It's called so because of all the gold the opium production in area brought in. We went to the opium museum to learn a bit more about this stuff and then it was shopping time. I slept on a bench. In the evening we went to a local restaurant by the river and had food while looking at people sending up lanterns lighting up rockets. It was really cosy.It was the first day of a great festival in Thailand. We went to bed early, because the next day we were going to Chiang Mai and it would be full moon and the main night of the festival!

I woke up in the van on top of a hill. It was time to have a look at Chiang Mai from above. The city didn't look special. After check-in at the hotel we went to take a cooking class. Since I want to eat asian food when I get back, I'm paying alot attention to these courses. The food tasted great and it was time to go for the highlight of the evening: the festival. We went to a temple and started lighting up our lanterns. It was loads of fun and the sky was magnificent with full moon, stars and hundreds of red lanterns flying in the air. I liked it alot. But the fun wasn't over yet. Next stop was the river and we all got ourself a floating lotus flower with a candle inside. Going out on a small bridge-thingy with people shooting rockets arund (and at) us, made it feel like a war zone around us. When the ladyboys on the bridge tried to flirt with us, the war didn't seem so scary anymore. We survived and sent our flowers down the river. It was a brilliant night and the Irish and I wanted to walk home. After 15 minutes we decided to take a tuktuk because there was nothing to see on the way. Elephant rider was pleased with the decision, 3 minutes we passed all the clubs with pretty girls outside and she was worried that we would never have gotten home if we were walking.

Trekking was our plan for our last day together. We walked up in the hills and stopped to have some swims in the waterfalls and rivers on the way. It was great fun sliding down a natural water slide, but slightly painful. I would guess someone smacks themselves pretty badly from time to time there. After a nice lunch at the top, we bamboo rafted down the stream to the vans again. We were three on each raft and had loads of fun. Our captain liked to poke Matt in the balls with his stick, and the two captains did what they could to get him in the water. They weren't able to though, cause this guy has Zapp Brannigan's cat-like reflexes and jumped between the rafts. Safely at the end of our little voyage, the guides threw slices of rubber tires on the girls while screaming "snake!". The girls freaked out, we laughed and went home. After a last dinner together, we split up and the group was no more. The pirate cried with his one eye when I left them. I had an excellent time and invited them all to Norway. Who will show up? Probably none...

Next up: enjoying life in Chiang Mai! Includes bungee jumping!


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