When you travel north to Chiang Mai, you have 2 options. 24 hour bus ride where people puke everywhere, orrrr 12 hour sleeper train. We went for the sleeper train. The risk with the sleeper train is your bunkmates. Would we get a mother and screaming child in our quad the size of barbies closet? Would we get an all-to-comfortable couple from Spain? Would we get the party bro’s? Turns out, the sleeper train Gods really love us because we got 2 really awesome people, a Canadian and a Jordinian. They both teach at a performing arts school in Jordan and are now happily dating (aw.) They were a ton of fun to talk to and joke around with. We hit the Thailand sleeper train JACKPOT. Did not sleep well because it was incredibly drafty in there and the blankets they provide should not even be called such. They gave us cloths, and laughed at us. Although I was comfy in my bottom bunk the size of a bullet, and hope to revisit a night train experience better weathered and with a snowsuit. Vietnam, perhaps?
Chiang Mai is incredible. A lot slower pace, clean side streets, and a ton going on. Chiang Mai is in Northern Thailand and has a lot of Hill Tribes living in the area. We spent the first day walking about town, hitting up all the great markets, drinking more juices with friends staying at the hostel, and explored some of the Temples. Chiang Mai has the most temples out of any city in Thailand and was great to see a few (we’re not really temple people, but we try). We did an organic Thai cooking class the first night there. 3-course dinner and it was quite delectable. I don’t have many skills in the kitchen so I was pretty excited to learn new things, and that I did. We made a chicken and coconut milk soup, red curry with chicken, and pad thai. The red curry was entirely off my spice radar so I had a tiny bit and set it aside. Other than that the other dishes were soooo tasty. Everyone in the class was a good time and we’ve really, at this moment, been very very lucky with the other travelers we’ve come in contact with. I understand that most are really cool people, but sometimes you just can’t escape the weirdos, so far, that is not the case. (woot woot)
There are a TON of night markets in Chiang Mai, we were in heaven! We got thai massages for a couple bucks, great streetfood, more juices, and ate bugs. I went with the cricket and Haley devoured a huge grasshopper. We met a Canadian couple at the juice stand who dared us, so of course we dove right in. Not bad I must say, still got some legs in my teeth, but not all that bad. Also had some Pad Thai in Chiang Mai (how could I leave this country without eating the most popular American Thai dish? I couldn’t.) and it was really very good, nothing to rave about, but glad I gave it a go.
The big day was on Sunday when we went on a one-day trek (with more cool people and 3 killer Chinese girls). It started off a bit rocky when I left my credit card in the ATM and walked away. It wasn’t there 20 minutes later when I realized what I had done. It was pretty tough to cancel it when my phone doesn’t make phone calls and the company won’t let me do it online. Even harder when you’re in a van in the Hills of Northern Thailand with no connection to anyone, anywhere. Long story short, no additional charges on my card, cancelled it the following day, and I’m still an idiot.
We took an hour van ride and rode elephants! It was sad to see them shackled, but the alternative isn’t a safe life for them (at least that’s what people have told me and am believing). We met a girl who does a lot of blogging about Tourism and how (or if) tourists are killing it step by step, purchase by purchase. Tough subject to get into, a lot of valid points on both sides and also very different stories from each major place of tourism. ANYWAYS here we are ON a TOUR, which makes us tourists, so we didn’t overthink things enjoyed ourselves. We took a bamboo raft down the river which was incredibly relaxing. I was the winner of the day and got to raft with the 3 Chinese girls. The one in front of me totally fell off (there’s no rapids, not even close) and fully submerged herself. It was one of the funniest faces I’ve ever seen when she resurfaced. Poor thing, that water was super cold. We had some mixed veggies, rice, and curry for lunch and then did a couple hour walk around the rice fields and saw a waterfall. Super fun day filled with things I’ve never done before and really enjoyed.
Had another nice run in the morning and packed up for the airport. Big 1 hour flight to Laos that afternoon! It was either a flight, a 2 day “slow boat”, or a 1 day “fast boat”, or I’m sure another 24 hour bus ride (they all seem to be 24 hours, strange). In this case, the boats are very dangerous and nauseating, as is the bus trip. Since we are trying to maximize our time and value every minute, we pennied up and bought a last minute flight. The plane was small, but clean and we were FED. Drinks and food on a 1 hour flight, we were both floored. Loving Laos already…