Monday, October 30, 2006

Chang Mai (day 1 2, and 3) and bus back to Bangkok

Okay, so after the trek finished we chilled out in Chang Mai and went to the night market (by we I mean claire and I, the girl who I meant whilst sharing an elephant ride). The next day we went to chat with the monks at the Wat Suan Dok temple.. we grabbed a tuk tuk, and enjoyed the ride.

view from the tuk tuk, which is essentially a motorcycle with a carriage around it.
Inside the temple we took off our shoes and went to the main statue of buddah

You're not meant to touch a monk if you're a woman, and you have to dress modestly, and never point your feet at them!

all over the temple grounds were signs written on the trees in thai and english.. i took loads of pictures of them, but this was my favourite:

We then bumped into some monks playing som esort of chess with rocks, so we sat and chatted a while.. though only one spoke english:

After that we saw you could buy buckets filled with food, insense, toothbrush, etc for the monks, so we chipped in and bought one for the monk who blessed us. He wasnt about so we left a note :

Got back in our tuk tuk and headed into town to wander

That evening we went out with a few australian guys who were staying at our hostel, and i saw my first lady boy! yay!
We ended up hanging outin a pub and making friends with the bar owner, who was this lady who was killer at pool. I won 100Bat off one of the aussies because I bet she'd kick his mates ass at pool, and she did.. this is her kissing my winnings..

The next day claire and I woke up early for our tour to see the giraffe women, the big buddah, a cave that's famous but whose name escapes me, an orchid farm and butterfly farm. The highlight was definitely the giraffe women.
This is claire at the butterfly farm, with a sad little butterfly all broken that landed on her hand..

((apologies again for the blurry wings, if i had a macro lens...............))

The orchid farm had loads of different kinds of pretty orchids..

Then at the cave entrance we saw loads of kids staring at fish.. they were too cute!

We went to see the giant buddah statue at a viewpoint, and claire and i sat under it to show you the size..

the beautiful view

Then we finally got to meet the tribe.. the first person we met was this cute kid.

then the stretched ear women:

Then we went to see the giraffe necked women, who have these coils put on them at the age of 5 and continue for their entire lives, so much so that to take them off their necks would not be able to hold themselves up. Their necks are stretched alot with them, and covered in bruises.. the coils are super heavy too!

this girl was 4 and already wearing her coils..

We dashed from the tour to catch our evening bus, without eating.. and then ate croissants at midnight because there was only a random petrol station stop point. Arrived in Bangkok at 4 am and went about finding a hotel on the Koa San road..
woke up at 11am from a nap, and just wandered about with Claire, as she's leaving tomorrow for Koh Tao, and I'm heading to Cambodia..

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Chang Mai (Trek day 1, 2, 3)

Arrived at 7 am in chang mai, dropped off by the bus and ushered into a random taxi (a glorified truck with benches in the back of it). All crowded in we ended up at the site where the tour started. Having met two irish boys on the bus they let me kip in their room for a couple hours before the trek began. Again, ushered into the glorified truck to head off for elephant riding!

We arrived just intime to drop our bags and get onto the elephants..
Me and Claire, a welsh girl who I made friends with shared an elephant, feeding it sugar cane and taking turns riding on its head..

We rode through the jungle,

Later we trekked through the jungle and bathed in the waterfall

See the middle? Yeah, i was under that.. right there.. being drenched by a waterfall. AMAZING.

We then trekked for 2 hours through rice fields and jungle..

Then we arrived at the hilltribe we were going to sleep at. We met the locals who all lived in houses on stilts to avoid the heavy rain floods..

The children and ladies came to try and sell us their handmade crafts.. The children had necklaces and the women had their handmade scarves that they wove themselves... just like the clothes they wore.

We slept in a little bungalow thing on foutons, and the next day began what promised to be a four hour jungle trek, but ended up being six hours of climbing through the mountains of the jungle. With a broken backpack.. and blisters.. and mud.. and mosquitos..
It was hard. SO VERY VERY HARD, we were all dying. And when we got to the top we were given lunch wrapped in leaves, and ate it with chopsticks made out of bamboo we cut along the way..

I ate so fast.. and so much:

Sleep was DEFINITELY welcomed that night as we camped in the jungle, using the river to shower in..

The next day we trekked for another two hours and reached the river where we would float down on a bamboo raft..

The guides kept shouting "NO WET NO FUN!" and we got soaked, pushed and thrown over board, wrestling and playing in the warm river waters. We got through the rapids to a place where you could dive in the deeper water, so we all climbed up the rocks and jumped off.. no wet, no fun!

We arrived back to Chang Mai where me and claire shared a room, and met up with the irish guys from the busride from bangkok, and all headed to the night market. Lots and lots of things to buy, not enough time, but we bartered and haggled and I finally got a new backpack to make up for the monsterous broken one i had bought in Africa.

JoBurg to Bangkok

I spent a couple days being lazy and useless in JoBurg hostels, and then got on my flight to Bangkok via singapore. I met a guy called Keoni from New York on the bus into Bangkok from the airport, and we hunted for a hostel on the Kho San Road. That night we went and got Thai Massages and facials (I'd never had one) then headed to a livemusic pub where a thai band was doing covers of 80's hair bands (ACDC, Guns And Roses, Metallica) It was awesome!

Next day I did some shopping before my trip to trek in Chang Mai. I had a run in with the Thai Police as the lady of MOM's HOTEL tried to con me into paying an extra night because of her dodgy checkout times.. she called the cops but i refused to go to the station with them until i got my money back. Mwahaha.
Ended up on the bus to Chang Mai, a 12 hour overnight experience talking to an Israeli bloke who had just bought a small squirrel/hamster like thingy and was trying to bring it with him back to israel.

Kruger National Park (second time around, days 1-3)

The next day i got picked up from the sabie backpackers and headed to Kruger again, to try my luck for lions. We stayed in a nice lodge, where I shared a room with an Argeninean girl who was in my tour group. It was lik e a little slice of home. We stayed up singing songs that we knew a kids, and rhymes, and fantasizing about steak and dulce de leche icecream. Everyone made fun of us because the volume in which we spoke went up about double the second we spoke in spanish, and our arms started gesticulating like crazy.

In the morning we went on a game walk, learning about tracks, trees and animal dung. We lucked out and saw a herd of Buffalo, and a few rhinos. We had to leave in a hurry as we were on foot and the buffalo had already given us a few warnings that we were not welcome.

After the walk we went on a cultural village tour, which i found dissappointing as the capetown township tour was much better. Then we drove into Kruger and did a game drive to our camping spot, stoppiing to see a couple of lions shagging by the side of the road, and a couple impala sparring together.

Me playing with shadows again..

Marina, the argentinean girl and i shared a tent, and spent more time laughing as we tried to put it up in the pitch of night, with me inside the tent and her outside trying to work it without flashlights since both of ours were broken. The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and were through the park gates at 530am. A couple hours game driving and we saw more lions, all laying about lazily staring at us, big yellow green eyes and all.

When we got back we were exhausted, having not gotten much sleep the night before as we were up all night chatting. After a seriously needed nap, we headed for a 4 hour game drive again, since the clouds made it cool enough for the animals to want to come out and graze.

Marina peering through the window of the truck

Needless to say the highlight of that drive was a leopard, who walked beside the truck and stopped to stare right at me. I'll never forget what its like to look straight into the eyes of such a beautiful cat, and kno w that it sees you, and is looking back at you. He stared so much i got scared and wondered if he would jump, but he just stared, crossed infront of the truck, and walked off to the watering hole for a drink. How can you top that? a Leopard an arms distance away showing he is aware of you. Simply amazing.

We kept driving seeing baboon, hyena, and all the rest of it, but the leopard was what stuck. That night most of the group went on a game drive after steak braii (barbeque), though i stayed at camp having decided I got my fill of animals. The entire tour group was lovely, and Marina and I had nicknamed the elderly couple from Texas "los abuelos" (the grandparents) because they were so cute and always concerned for everyone. Most of the time we spent driving around looking at animals Marina and I spent wondering what they would taste like and how we would prepare them. Zebra steak, Giraffe rump, gunea fowl in a wine sauce.. it was so good to have a fellow argentinean with me who also missed empanadas and parilladas.

We broke camp early the next morning and headed along the panorama route, which i had already done on the previous tour, so i took the opportunity and bought souvenires. We arrived inJohannesburg and all headed out for dinner. The hotel had a trampoline so before going to bed, i made marina jump, as she had never been on one before. The next morning we all parted ways, with marina promising to eat a steak in my memory when she arrived back in buenos aires.

Bjorn, the infamous Belgian guide!

Me and Marina on the evening we went out for dinner..