A Travellerspoint blog

I want to ride my bicycle...

semi-overcast 34 °C
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Our penultimate day in Thailand and again we went our separate ways to do what we both love doing - Katherine to shop in a scrap-booking shop and me to ride a bicycle. Luckily the starting point for both was in the same vicinity.

My bicycle trip was with ABC - Amazing Bangkok Cyclist. My guide was Apple and I was the only customer for the day as the other people had pulled out at. That made the trip a bit faster but that was ok as we had an appointment to meet my friend Lee on the other side of Bangkok.

The first half of the ride was on the Bangkok side of the Chao Praya River. We wound through little alleyways and busy roads and stopped to look at the life of ordinary Thai people. There are a lot of backyard businesses - people making shoes, selling desserts etc. At the halfway point of the tour we hired a long-tail boat to cross the river. While crossing I knocked my camera so it wouldn't open and close. This was a bummer as the Samut Prakan side of the river was beautiful and deserved a few photographs. There are planning restrictions on this side so there are no high-rises, only houses in swamps and boardwalks through the trees that we rode over. When we had finished exploring this side of the river we crossed back and returned to the ABC offices using a direct route.

I made my way back to Soi Rambuttri for a freshen up and to collect Katherine and head off for the other side of Bangkok to meet my Thai friend Lee. Our meeting place was KFC in the Central Plaza, Lad Prow. It's a huge place and I used my Thai at an information booth to ask for directions to KFC. I understood the answer so was pleased with myself. It was lovely to catch up with my friend.

And finally on our last day we shopped ourselves silly at Chatuchak Market. Again, I think I may have come away with the best bargains of the day. We returned to our hotel to collect our bags, take showers and catch a taxi to the airport. The flights home were long and uneventful. It's great to be away but even greater to know my home is in a country as beautiful as New Zealand, even if it was 30 degrees cooler than Bangkok!

Posted by pythagnz 01:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Most Miserable Me

sunny
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Since we were leaving on the overnight train to Bangkok we reversed our normal routine of doing an activity in the morning and pottering in the afternoon. Instead we pottered in the morning then checked out of the guesthouse, ate lunch and caught a tuk-tuk to the Chiang Mai National Museum. It was good for a bit over an hour. Quite interesting but we both got a bit tired of reading the blurbs and finished by looking at the pictures.

We still had time for an internet session before catching a tuk-tuk to the train station. But as soon as we left the internet cafe I started feeling ill. I suffered the tuk-tuk ride being careful not to spit on the policeman riding the motorbike behind us. Then had to spend over an hour sitting outside the toilets at the train station and venturing in periodically to feel sick. I did manage to puke and Katherine found me some anti-nausea pills. The man collecting money for the toilet very kindly found me some rehydration sachets and gradually I started feeling better.

Our carriage on the train comprised us sandwiched between some noisy elderly Thai couples and some noisy French tourists. It took a while but eventually it became quiet.

We have now arrived in Bangkok and are planning our day's activities. Might be not much.

Posted by pythagnz 18:51 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Massage Madness

semi-overcast 24 °C
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Occasionally we have experienced power cuts as we have traipsed around the northern Thai countryside. We experienced quite a few when we were at Cave Lodge. Especially when it rained. And it rained quite a lot. In the evenings to amuse ourselves Katherine and I would play 20 questions. Somebody would think of a famous person and the other person would try to guess who it was by asking only yes or no questions. I am one-up on Katherine as she failed to guess Ernest Shackleton.

Now we are in Chiang Mai there are other ways to amuse ourselves. We could watch tv - a novelty after two weeks without. But the reception is poor and most of the channels are Thai-language. We could have gone to a Muay Thai fight night last night but even though I had lessons I'm not sure I'm ready to witness the headshots. Anyway, I can go to a fightnight in NZ. The night bazaar (different from the Sunday night market) is some distance away and when we went last time we decided it wasn't very interesting.

So, last night after eating at May Kaidee's vegetarian restaurant (very famous and just round the corner from our guesthouse) and for me, getting tiddly on one Chang beer (cost = $3 for a large one) we went to the massage place right next door to the restaurant. The streets of Chiang Mai are filled with hair salons, laundry service, eating establishments, massage and internet shops. So it's difficult to know which is a good one. Mai ben lai, it doesn't matter.

We chose to have a foot massage each and pretty soon I was almost asleep. But afterwards when I spoke my few words of Thai I became a big hit. Suddenly I'm surrounded by beautiful Thai women who want to practise English and teach me Thai. Aahhh! Tonight we go back for Thai massage!

Last time we were in Chiang Mai (two years ago) we wanted to go to the Buffalo Camp. This is like an elephant camp but with buffalos. Unfortunately the tourists are more interested in the elephants. Anyway, we paid for a car and driver to take us to Mae Taeng about 40km out of town. We were told the buffalo camp included a snake farm, orchid house, butterfly house and monkey school. When we arrived it appeared that the place had been rundown and apart from a few sad orchids and a few sad monkeys and a few happy buffalo there wasn't much there.

They put the buffalo show on just for Katherine and me. And we quite enjoyed it. It demonstrated the traditional life of a farmer - how they planted rice, harvested rice, ploughed the rice field using the buffalo, pounded the rice and squeezed the sugar cane juice (also using the buffalo). Then they showed us how the villagers would make a bridge using the buffalo and they would step on the buffalo's backs to get across the river. Then we had a chance at riding them. Katherine had the big male buffalo. I had a smaller female. It was fun.

Then the driver took us to the tiger temple for lunch. We could eat our lunch while looking directly into the tiger enclosures. I guess the idea was to tempt us to pay the extra baht to spend 15mins with the tigers. You can pat them and stroke them. But unlike elephants and water buffalo they aren't domesticated animals and it didn't feel right.

Next I asked to go to the Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens. This was a great find. It was beautiful and instead of walking up steep hills we got to ride in a golfcart type thing. We walked around the Australian corner for a few minutes but spent most of our time in the glasshouses. They were quite good, especially the tropical rainforest one. Then we were let out to walk to a waterfall and the rock garden and orchid nursery. At that point the heavens opened and drenched us. We sat out the rain in the orchid nursery before meeting up with our driver and sleeping our way back to Chiang Mai.

In the evening we returned to the Top Ten massage for a traditional Thai massage. This time I had the woman who performed Katherine's foot massage and she had mine. My new masseuse was very pretty but the other one was stronger which is why she had Katherine. At the end Katherine got lots of hugs from her. Suddenly Katherine is one up on me. How come I didn't get hugs from a beautiful Thai masseuse? Ahh. Mai ben lai.

Posted by pythagnz 02:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Flight of the gibbon

semi-overcast 33 °C
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Gliding through the trees effortlessly. From tree to tree, high above the ground. Is that flash of colour a gibbon? No, it's Katherine. And me.

Today was a splurge day. We did Chiang Mai's top attraction - Flight of the Gibbon. This is a zipline course near Doi Saket mountain about an hour out of Chiang Mai. Pickup was early - before 7am and we spent a bit of time tiki touring around back sois picking up other tourists until there were nine of us in all. At first we were suspicious of each other - Dutch, Swiss, Irish, Guamese (?) and Kiwis but over the course of the day we became friends.

The course has 18 ziplines and 3 abseils. Some of the first few ziplines required us to break so we were provided with a bamboo hook that we thought looked like the enemy robots from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (roger roger). We placed the hook on the cable when instructed by the guide and it acted to slow us down. Overall, the course was brilliant and we had a fantastic time. It took about 2 1/2 hours to get around.

Afterwards, we had an early lunch then were taken to Mae Kampong waterfall. It has seven tiers but it's not very big or spectacular. Just a nice, ordinary Thai waterfall. We climbed to the top and back down again before being driven in air-conditioned comfort back to Chiang Mai. All nine tourists (even me) fell asleep in the van on the way back. Being a gibbon is hard work!

Last night we went for a big shop at the Sunday night market. This is way better than the night bazaar. Unfortunately there was a big tropical downpour halfway through. This coincided with the point where my shopping ability had flagged but Katherine was just getting started. Even so, I managed to outshop Katherine. She's a bit bummed by that. Anyway, when it rained I returned to the guesthouse with my bargains and left Katherine to come back alone and empty-handed an hour later.

Posted by pythagnz 01:47 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Goodbye Pork Pai

semi-overcast 31 °C
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So, to fit in in Pai I had to have a bamboo tattoo, get an eyebrow piercing (I always wanted one), change my hair to dreadlocks, wear long baggy trousers and gaze into crystals. Actually, there was another way to fit in - I could go mountainbiking, rafting or trekking. Which do you think I chose? That's right, I chose to have Muay Thai (kickboxing) lessons - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

It's different from karate. You have to be up on your toes a bit more. Katherine watched my lessons (along with other falang) then she went off to have a spa treatment and it was my turn to wait while she did her activity. Her spa treatment was split into two. The second session was in the evening so I had a foot massage then a back massage while I waited for her to emerge with painted fingernails and toenails.

Pai was ok. It has services and eating choices but nature beckons me more strongly.

Posted by pythagnz 23:44 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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