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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

The journey from Luang Prabang to Chang Mai was of epic proportions. We were picked up from our hotel at 6pm and the bus left the station at 7pm, a little surreal at the station as The Great Escape was playing on the TV! The bus stopped innumerable times for reasons unknown, one stop was to collect the animal they had run over (we don’t know the identity of the victim!) It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words, perhaps this is one of them?

We arrived at the Laos town of Houay Sai at around 11am, it was then a tuk tuk ride to the border itself to check out of Laos, followed by a boat ride across the river to get stamped into Thailand.

We were horrified when the guy trying to sell us a (very expensive) mini van ride to Chang Mai advised that the public bus took a further 12 hours. Ignoring him, we got another tuk tuk into town and paid £12 quid for the public bus (instead of £90 for a mini van), a further 7 hours later we eventually arrived in Chang Mai. In total the journey took 26 hours and involved 7 different vehicles/boats!

As you can imagine, we were exhausted and extremely hungry when we arrived. Polly’s face lit up when we decided fast food was the order of the day for dinner!
The next day, as we were still jaded, we just had a stroll round. We went to have a massage by blind masseurs to try to rub away some of our aches and pains from the previous days travelling. In the evening, we found a really great place to eat where you can pick your food from a number of different stalls – you choose from Thai (obviously), Indian, Japanese and Western dishes. We mixed and matched from various places and had a right feast. On the way back, Polly spotted a CD/DVD stall. After about 15 minutes we walked away with 6 CD’s of dubious legality!

Chang Mai is a kind of Mecca for mountain biking so the following day we went for a ride. We were taken by pick up to the top of a mountain outside of Chang Mai – 5400 ft according to the marketing material. Once the leader had cleared a baby Cobra from the forest floor (I jest not), we had a bit of formal instruction and they assessed our riding abilities – this consisted of riding over a branch! We then jumped on our bikes and set off.

Unfortunately, the cloud was very low so we didn’t see any of the spectacular views we were promised. The first part of the ride was on quite a good track and was really easy. The group stopped at a coffee plantation for refreshments and then it was into the saddle again. Within 10 minutes of riding the thunder started and within 20 there was torrential rain. By this time, the track had become quite challenging in places made all the more hazardous by the streams that were forming where we were trying to cycle.

It was fairly miserable to be honest and my fellow cyclists (Emma & Polly) were extremely slow. Polly was becoming more and more disillusioned with the whole mountain bike thing, this culminated in her falling off (several times). Thereafter, she flatly refused to get back on her bike. I got increasingly annoyed and tried to ride my bike whilst pushing her bike, this resulted in me coming off my bike and pretty much impaling myself on the handlebars. In the end we had to tell the rest of the group to carry on without us. Lunch was included in the day, however it took us such a long time to get to the end, it was gone 4pm and all we wanted to do was to get back to the hotel and get out of our wet muddy clothes, but we had to polish off some green curry first!
I guess looking back it was fairly comical, like some spoof programme you might watch on the TV. However, at the time, I was fuming mad! In fairness to Polly, the track was pretty treacherous and I think I underestimated how much she had hurt herself when she fell off. Needless to say, we will not be doing any further biking activities together, EVER! Looking back perhaps we should have realised that friday the 13th was not a good day for this kind of activity!

permalink written by  Tim and Em on August 14, 2010 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Round half the world!
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what's the best Mountain to hike in Chiang Mai?

permalink written by  El Cid Vacation on August 23, 2010

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